Most companies have adjusted to pandemic life–they’ve refitted their existing organization to the new environment. But rather than simply adjust, think about the giant opportunity you now have to completely reboot–to take all the promise and unfulfilled potential of your team on a six-month journey toward 10x transformation.
Before the pandemic, you were hopeful, but hungry for fast and focused collaboration and constructive and candid discussion. You were eager, but impatient to see signs of agility from your senior team in the face of change–or to initiate disruptive change. The potential for exponential growth and unrealized innovation maybe felt just out of reach. Look back on the past six months and your team likely did some extraordinary things.
But what about the next six months? There will be great fortunes lost and great fortunes gained in this time of disruption. The world is still waiting for you to fundamentally transform. In the next six months, you and your team can take a 10-year leap forward. We are going to show you how to land it.
1. The Future of High-Performance Teams: Co-Elevation
Imagine if the ownership of your organization’s success switched from you, the leader, to your team–if your management overload were a shared load. The highest-performance teams we have coached at Ferrazzi Greenlight have delivered billions of dollars of value, ignited innovation, and accelerated growth. Why? They have a team-first approach. They practice safe candor, are committed to peer-to-peer co-creation and collaboration, offer a service mindset that cuts across silos, and have a relentless focus on results and winning–but winning together. Our research institute has spent 20 years defining the behaviors and practices behind these optimal teams–what I call co-elevation in my book Leading Without Authority.
Co-elevation happens when a team is committed to organizational growth and team members are committed to one another: They climb higher together. They will challenge one another, give one another feedback, and coach one another. Accountability and productivity no longer need be the leader’s burden, but will become a peer-to-peer attribute of how the team operates. Pivoting the business will emerge in the fabric of the team rather than waiting for the leader to call the play.
The move to new behavioral norms is called recontracting–the collective negotiation of a new team social contract. For example, failing to say what needs to be said in meetings is a low-integrity behavior that erodes value. To learn how to lead your team to commit to co-elevating behaviors, you can watch our recontracting video and get our recontracting white paper at keithferrazzi.com/recontract.
2. Innovation Through Inclusivity
Unseen possibilities come into view only if a team is deeply engaged in new ways. Step one is to redefine team to include the most inspiring experts, your advisers, and, of course, the organizational colleagues beyond your direct reports. Remote work and blended work have created new opportunities to “team out”–to draw in expertise and insight from outside your organization. The team is whomever you need to reinvent and open up great possibility. If you’re not thinking of Inc. 5000 CEOs as a network of expertise to draw on, aren’t you missing the point?
But teams also need to create more value from their interdependencies. Today, most teams live in co-existence, with individuals earnestly doing their jobs. That is insufficient for a 10x organization. A practice that delivers innovation through inclusivity is called collaborative problem-solving (CPS).
Take a business-critical question and invite the team to focus on it over a 60-to-90-minute session, breaking out into smaller groups and then reporting back. Using breakout rooms–whether co-located, virtual, or blended–keeps engagement high and conversation bold and candid. CPS questions include:
- What North Star mission are we all striving for as a team?
- What are the biggest hills we need to take to achieve success?
- What are the greatest risks we face and how can we safeguard against them?
Everyone preps for the meeting. Everyone’s voice is heard. The owner of the question characterizes the response to each idea as a yes, a no, or a maybe, if the suggestion merits more research. Too many senior teams have lost sight of collaboration in today’s era of report-out meetings. But I’ve seen CPS help startups pivot to ensure they do not erode the money they have raised. I’ve seen CPS redefine the solutions of Fortune 500 companies. Even through the difficulties caused by Covid-19, CPS has fueled product reinvention and process reengineering.
Co-elevation happens when a team is committed to organizational growth and team members are committed to one another.
If CPS helps identify the biggest hills, then a leadership team needs to sprint to take them. Most companies leverage the Agile process in project management, but it needs to rise to the level of Agile executive teams. At meetings between sprints, the team should follow a process I call bulletproofing. The sprint owner reports in no more than 15 minutes: what we have done since the last sprint, what we are struggling with, and what we are planning next. The team then breaks into smaller groups with a brief to report back to the meeting:
- What risks do we see to success?
- How could we be bolder and more innovative? Give specific innovation suggestions back to the sprint owner.
- How could we be helpful to the sprint owner? Figure out ways.
The past six months have challenged us all. Cases of anxiety disorder more than quadrupled among American adults from mid-2019 to late July 2020. A thoughtful leader will strive to identify and isolate the sources of stress in an organization–whether that’s performance pressure or anxiety over balancing work and child care–and develop mitigation plans. But people are also frustrated and angry about racial and social injustice. I’ve seen positive CPS sessions challenging how organizational values play out in practice.
Celebration is a universal energy boost. Ask people in meetings to name one or two people whose service to other team members they would like to celebrate. It is a self-reinforcing philosophy. Something I do at the end of meetings is a gratitude circle. This is an invitation for everyone to share something they are grateful for. A check-in for stress at the beginning of a meeting, when everyone rates their energy level from 0 to 5, can also help the team support one another.
It’s time to recognize that resilience is a team sport, and it’s why we’re working with Inc. to make our Go Forward to Work initiative open to you. Whatever you’ve done in the past six months, you have the next six to reboot your business. Leaders and teams who visit the hub can share ideas and resources on such topics as mental health, well-being, remote work, leadership, and teams. My hope is you’ll find transformational advice. Now is the time for a 10x shift. Let’s co-elevate, and go forward to work 10 years from now today.
From the November 2020 issue of Inc. Magazine