Great Teams: A book review by Bob

Great TeamsGreat Teams: 16 Things High Performing Organizations Do Differently
Don Yaeger
W Publishing Group/An Imprint of Thomas Nelson (July 2016)

“If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need.” William L. McKnight (1924)

However different great business teams and great sports teams may be in most other respects, all of them do have much in common. Don Yaeger asserts that each has a culture within which success is most likely to thrive. He identifiers and discusses four “essential pillars” that serve as the foundation of that culture:

1. Members feel connected to a higher purpose than competition. As Simon Sinek describes it, they understand the “Why” for their efforts.

2. In Yaeger’s words, members of the team “think creatively and act dynamically in order to stay fresh, effective, and relevant.”

3. Moreover, each member of the team “brings a unique set of talents, experiences, perspectives, work ethic, personality traits, and know-how that melds with and complements those of the other team members.

4. Finally, “there is a strong sense of understanding, appreciation, shared responsibility, and trust that unites and motivates the team to work together.”

Great business teams (e.g. Disney’s animators in the late-1930s and Lockheed’s “Skunk Works”) have such a culture as do great sports teams (e.g. John Wooden’s basketball teams at UCLA and Red Auerbach’s Boston Celtics in the NBA). They also have great leadership, sufficient resources, and (for lack of a better term) good chemistry.

Yeager makes skillful use of several reader-friendly devices. They include these sections in Chapters 1-15:

o “Great Teams in Sports”
o “More from Great Teams in Sports”
o “And for the Truly Great Teams in Business”
o “Great Takeaways”

He includes an Appendix (Page 201-234) which consists of “Great Takeaways from Business and Sports Leaders.”

Yaeger observes, “According to the Harvard Business Review, A-caliber players are four times as productive than as average employees. — a universal truth seen across all industries. Tech-giant Apple reports that A-level developers are nine times more productive than the average programmer. Top sales representatives deliver eight times more revenue than the average rep. In the operating room, high-performance transplant surgeons have a success rate six times higher than the average transplant surgeon. These individuals don’t settle for less but consistently pursue greatness — and an organization cannot be successful without them.”

In The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, Stephen Covey points out, “If you hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won’t require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone else could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external.”

Now consider these words of caution from Warren Buffett: “Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without integrity, you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”

High-performance workers are attracted to high-performance organizations and make them even more productive. They also increase their appeal to other high-performance people who in turn….

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