It was early in my career when a leader and mentor I really admired gave me what was one of the most important pieces of leadership advice I have ever received.
“Vince,” my mentor told me, “as a leader, you are only as good as the team you build around you.”
I’ve always worked hard to follow this advice in my own leadership roles. It became especially important when I moved up to hold executive level leadership roles.
In short, when you have a strong team, it allows you to focus on critical, strategic issues that only a leader can manage.
In contrast, if your team is weak, you’ll always be stuck dealing with mundane, tactical work. That’s a tough way to lead and a really difficult way to drive high performance.
Now, I admit this idea isn’t really that novel or revolutionary. But, it’s a fundamental building block if you want to be a truly accountable leader. Oddly, it’s also a concept that eludes many leaders.
Over the years, I have seen many leaders and organizations struggle to build strong teams. As a result, the entire organization has suffered.
A few years back, we conducted a study that found 92 percent of companies acknowledge that teams are critical to their success. Unfortunately, we also found that only 23 percent of those companies consider their teams to be effective.
This was a greater gap than we had even anticipated. So, we dug deeper with some additional research to understand what was going on.
The survey included a survey of business leaders and interviews with HR executives.
Overall, the findings reveal that the majority of teams are mediocre. Most do an okay job, but do not provide the foundation for companies to be successful. Of greater concern is the fact that only six percent of survey respondents rated their teams as truly exceptional.
Among those truly exceptional teams, accountability was a key element in their success. The report explores this in more detail and outlines why two qualities in particular – clarity and commitment – are the keys to driving strong team accountability and performance.
The report contains some recommendations that leaders can put in place in their own teams. We also provide a team audit that you can use to determine whether you team is mediocre or exceptional.
Have a look at the report, and let me know your thoughts and reactions. I’d really appreciate hearing from you.
This week’s Gut Check asks: Are you building a truly accountable team?