Team Quotient: A book review by Bob Morris

Team Quotient: How to Build High Performance Leadership Teams That Win Every Time
Douglas R. Gerber
Focus One Publishing (January 2019)

Why an organization is only as strong as its leadership teams

As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of a phrase from one of St. Paul’s First Letters to the Corinthians: “Many parts, one body.” I agree with Douglas Gerber that every organization needs effective leadership teams at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Many different parts indeed. He wrote this book for those who now lead — or aspire to lead — a High Performance Team. His focus is on what he characterizes as “Team Quotient” (TQ): That is, “the degree to which team members work effectively together as a High Performance Team. It’s a new way of looking at intelligence from the perspective of the team.”

Teams with Collective TQ included the Disney animators who created several classics (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Bambi), the Manhattan Project, Lockheed’s “Skunk Works,” and Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).  When conducting workshops on teamwork, I also cite the hospital ER as a more recent example from which valuable business lessons can also be learned.

With all due respect to what High Performance Teams achieve, they do not “win every time,” however the given competition is being scored, unless the given team performs at a higher level than ever before. The title of one of Marshall Goldsmith’s recent books suggests that what got you here won’t get you there. I take that a step further: What got you here even won’t let you remain here, however “here” and “there” are defined.

This is what James O’Toole has in mind when suggesting that the greatest resistance to change initiatives is cultural in nature, the result of what he so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.”

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the scope of Gerber’s coverage in Chapters 1-12:

o The Six Prerequisites to Embarking on the TQ Journey (Pages 16-21)
o The Four Reasons TQ Is Missing from Most Teams (29-31)
o Lessons from Team Sports and Applying Them to Business(40-46)
o Meetings That Work (56-59)
o FORD: The Four Behaviors (60-64)

o The Alignment Meeting: The Burning Platform and the Path Forward (70-76)
o “VIVRE FAT”: The Eight Elements of High-TQ Teams(81-86)
o Collective Team Quotient (98-105)
o Persona, Team Quotient (105-114)
o The TQ “Mango,” and, High Performance Teams (120-122)

o Dysfunctional Teams (124-125)
o Building a New Team (137-139)
o Assessment: What Kind of a Team Do You Lead? (144-152)
o The Eight Essential Elements of Creating a High-TQ Team (167-168)
o Steps to Create Mission/Purpose (181-183)

Gerber also makes skillful use of eight mini-case studies:

o Culture and Change Management at Cathay Pacific Airways IT (Pages 130-133)
o Chris Geary at BSD — An Entrepreneur’s Approach to Teams: The Importance of Mission (184-187)
o Dudley Slater at Integra Telecom: The Power of Team Identity (199-203)
o Dr. Glen Frommer’s Environment and Sustainability Team at MTR Corporation (233-236)
o Achal Agarwal at Kimberly-Clark: Team Principles to Create Stellar Results (238-243)
o Penny Wan: Leading Effective Teams at Amgen (272-275)
o Merle Heinrich at Global Sources: Creating a Sustainable Management Team Through Trust and Transparency (316-321)
o Dan Booher — Building a High Performance Team at KOHL’s (329-332)

Each organization must decide how best to develop effective leadership teams at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise.  The great value of the eight mini-case studies is that they offer real-world information, insights, and counsel from which valuable lessons can be learned. Here are Dan Booher’s lessons from Kohl’s development process of strategy:

1. Spend the time to build the right team and strategy, and start from ground zero if necessary.
2. Get it right with your core team first.
3. Make sure you have your Team Charter and strategy set and well documented.
4. Involve and align the entire organization (internal and external), and integrate the strategy.
5. Bring in external stakeholders to communicate and align the strategy.
6. To keep quality momentum, invest in the standards.
7. Recognize, recognize, recognize.

Be sure to check out additional material about the Kohl’s process, Pages 329-332.

In the final chapter, Douglas Gerber shares his thoughts about his readers'”Next Steps,” now that they have a comprehensive understanding of how to build their High Performance Team. “Given that every team is unique and that includes your team, where do you start? After all, your team currently may be anywhere along the spectrum from Dysfunctional to High Performance.” Quite true. This is a “must read” for readers in any organization, whatever its size and nature, wherever along the spectrum it may be.


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