We just published an article I wrote for our current newsletter about how the power of relationships, starting with the leader, can make a dramatic difference in a team's performance.
In fact, I believe the greatest limitation on teams today is how the team members are able to work together. It's not technology. It's not information. It's not their collective knowledge and experience in their industry. It's that most people suffer in organizations where relationships are unhealthy.
Here are a few examples of leaders I know who got what they projected into the relationship with team members:
A leader who decided that the reason people were at his company was to make him rich, yet tried to put on a veneer of team togetherness, loyalty, and mutual support. Result: since he was really projecting "it's all about what's in it for me", people began asking what the leader would do for them when he directed them to do things.
A leader who thought her job was to poke holes in what her people brought her - and to do it with everyone present. On great teams this would have worked wonders - yet she had two challenges. First, she rarely met with anyone individually. Second, if anyone tried to poke holes in what she did, she would become defensive. Result: people avoided meetings and did things on their own, so efforts across the organization were uncoordinated and ineffective.
A leader who completely overloaded himself to keep team members unburdened. However, he built strong individual relationships where each person felt respected and listened to. During one of his regular one-on-one meetings, a senior VP shared her concerns about the CEO's overload. The CEO was able to step back and let go of more decision-making and task accomplishment. Result: the team was able to surpass the limitations of the leader and be substantially more productive.
So what do you think? What's your experience?