Are you a hero?
In your life and career, you have encountered and practiced, a range of leadership styles. In our work transitioning founder-run businesses into professionally managed enterprises, we have found that most leaders can be grouped into two distinct categories that we call “heroic” and “post-heroic”. Which are you?
Self-reliance, stubbornness and determination are prerequisites to getting a new enterprise off the ground, so in the early stages, a “heroic” leader is just the thing; blazing a trail, leading the way and inspiring followers. The style is efficient, intuitive and highly effective.
It is a great irony then, that the leadership qualities that got a fledgling business launched are the very qualities that will limit its growth. "What got you here won't get you there" in the words of Marshall Goldsmith.
“Heroic” management is the work of a single actor, amplified by a staff of reactors; a dictatorship where the leader decides and dictates actions for others to carry out. This is our default notion of leadership and when we think of a strong leader, he or she is probably exercising this style.
In the “post-heroic” style, decisions and actions are made by a collective intelligence; a team of people properly motivated and coordinated to work effectively together.
This is a much less intuitive style of leadership and making this transition is difficult, but we think it absolutely critical to get beyond the "Tribal Limit" of about 150 individuals that both Dave Logan in “Tribal Leadership” and Malcolm Gladwell discuss in "The Tipping Point".
So, are you a hero? Or are you post-heroic?
Building an enterprise requires vision, discipline and skill. It requires something else as well: Effective collaboration.
Enterprises fail: not because the vision was wrong;
not because of a lack of discipline
not because of a lack of hard work and
not because there was not enough skill.
Enterprises fail because of people.
That’s right. Good people, trying hard to work together and failing to do so.
It happens all the time.
Here is the problem:
We are not only not trained in effective teaming;
We are actually trained from an early age not to team!
Not only that:
Competition, not cooperation, is hard wired into us!
Our evolutionary history bred into us, a need to vanquish. This is a need that resides in a primitive part of the human brain. A part of the brain that cannot reason. A part of the brain that has no access to language. A part of the brain that manifests in emotion, in feeling and in action.
Not to fear, there are ways to work with this part of the brain. It's not through reading, it's not through reason. It's through action. Feeding that primitive brain with reinforcing emotional payoffs. We all know the feeling when we have succeeded, when achieving something very rewarding makes us feel ... well ... good. See? There's no language or reason here. Just feeling.
TopTeam puts that to work in building an effective team. We allow each player to feel the success of achieving something spectacular, something clearly not achievable alone; to get that feeling again and again; to become addicted to that feeling!
The Heath brothers, in their book "Switch" use an effective metaphor to talk about two elements within us that determine our behavior. They introduce the idea that our nature, that feeling part of us, is like an Elephant; huge, powerful, and willful. Sitting atop the Elephant is the tiny Rider, representing our logical and rational selves. It’s not hard to imagine the Elephant having his way if he wants it! That’s exactly what happens when we are emptying the ice cream tub while our brain screams NO!
Changing behavior in a lasting way involves two steps:
Creating a path for the "Elephant" and
Educating the "Rider"
Unless there is an easy path for the Elephant to take, the Rider will have little control.
Applying this philosophy to promoting effective collaboration is powerful, effective, and it is what we help you do.
Patrick Lencioni, in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” says this:
“Not strategy. Not technology. It’s TEAMWORK that remains the ultimate competitive advantage both because it’s so powerful and so rare. If you can get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction you can dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”
Scott C. Lewis has 3 successful startups, 2 turnarounds and dozens of coaching and business development projects under his belt. In 30 years of tech entrepreneurship, he has developed product, sold, managed the sales process, developed and managed advanced manufacturing, support and distribution... all through effective teams.