It’s remarkable how powerful a single common rallying point can be in establishing breakthrough results.
You gotta love a book on teamwork and transformation that opens with the backstory that surrounded the moment on October 22, 1879 when Thomas Alva Edison and his team knew they had discovered the combination of elements that would become the incandescent electric light bulb. Barely four pages into this 235 page book and already there are some amazing leadership lessons to mull over along with some current day research that reinforces these notable lessons. Three pages later another inspiring story unfolds about the crew of the HMAS Dechaineux of the Royal Australian Navy and how their team dynamics helped them survive a nearly fatal deep sea accident. More ‘ah ha’ moments follow and I am hooked.
Authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton (co-authors of a bestselling book series The Carrot Principle and others) regale readers with a wealth of specific stories on different breakthrough teams and the principles they embrace that propels them toward unimaginable success. They clearly articulate a key set of characteristics, supported by research, which can be adopted by any team that wants to truly excel. Five basic competencies (goal setting, communication, trust, accountability and recognition) combined with their “rule of three” (wow, no surprises and cheer) provide a solid roadmap for moving beyond the status quo that typically monopolizes 80% of our time and effort.
The Big Idea
Being ‘Great’ is a Daily Choice
"We decided that when we woke up in the morning and looked at ourselves in the mirror we had a decision to make: ‘Am I going to be great today?’"
Beyond being an inspirational concept (and a new sticky note affixed to all the mirrors in my house), this question reminds us that transformation begins within ourselves; it is not something that others can do ‘to us or for us’. We alone are responsible for choosing how we ‘show up’ to work or school or our volunteer commitment. And as Scott O’Neil observes, deciding to be great is not a one-time decision; you need to make the decision to be the best in the world every day, every minute, one meeting and one challenge at a time.
So let me ask you – what do you want to be great at? Do you have a plan (goal-setting) for how you will become great at your chosen activity? Are you prepared to commit to being great every day in every way in every moment on that journey? What’s stopping you from committing to greatness?
It’s Not About the Organizational Chart
"It doesn’t matter where a person fits into the org chart, as long as they embrace a set of rules that moves them toward world-class results, openness and a positive culture."
The interesting thing about the last question I posed, “What’s stopping you from committing to greatness?” is that the answer often lies within ourselves. Some readers may recall a TV game show that aired on NBC from 2001-2002 called The Weakest Link, where a team of players tries to reach and bank a set monetary target within a time limit by compiling a chain of correct answers. One player on the team got eliminated after each round and would be told (rather scathingly) by the host, “You are the weakest link. Goodbye!”
It can be tempting to blame our lack of action along the road to greatness on our current position within our organization or family or community group. It’s easy to say, “I just work here. I don’t call the shots.” And yet, that mindset is like kryptonite to breakthrough results. If we choose to deny our power to be a transformative force within our existing teams (however we define that unit), we become ‘the weakest link’ and can say goodbye to achieving the world-class results we desire. To quote Scott O’Neil again, “We all have more influence than we’ll ever know if we exert that influence for good in our teams.”
So forget about the org chart and start looking for opportunities to cultivate a mindset of possibilities, openness and mutual accountability for the type of success you know your team wants to achieve.
Two Goals = Great Results Faster
"When you establish both a quantified goal and a behavioral goal at the same time, they work hand in hand to propel you forward."
One way to do this is to review your current goals and determine if they can be written in both a quantifiable and a behavioral goal format. Gostick and Elton explain the difference with the following example: A sales person might set a quantifiable goal to sell so many units of a product in the first quarter. The behavioral goal might be to make fourteen prospecting calls in a week or research three new companies that might benefit from the product. Quantifiable goals specify the desired outcome or result; the behavioral goal outlines ways you might reach the quantifiable goal.
Now we might quibble over whether these are actually goals or objectives or action steps, however the point the authors make (and the point I wish to emphasize) is that at times a goal statement can be overwhelming and when we are overwhelmed we often fail to take action. Approaching goal setting with both a quantifiable and behavioral formula in mind, allows us to imagine different ways of achieving the goal. It helps us to break that larger goal down into more manageable activities, things we need to DO in order to be successful. These smaller ‘doing tasks’ propel us towards the larger goal and also provides us with a way to evaluate our progress along the way.
This is one transformational ‘ah ha’ that I am going to implement in my personal and professional life. While I do set goals and objectives, I know there are few that I haven’t made much traction on. I will revisit those goal areas and ensure:
- They support my broader goal of being great every day.
- I have described those goals in both quantifiable and behavioral formats.
- My weekly ‘to do’ list is linked to my core dreams and contains the behavioral goals that will propel me towards success.
Now it’s your turn. What will you do differently as a result of reading this Actionable summary on personal, team and organizational transformation? If you had to share one tip or technique for achieving breakthrough results, be it personally or as a member of a team, what would that tip be?