The Best Team Wins: A book review by Bob Morris

The Best Team Wins: The New Science of High Performance
Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
Simon & Schuster (February 2018)

What today’s high-impact leaders are doing to achieve and then sustain their organization’s peak performance

In recent years, there have been several brilliant books published that focus on how organizations as well as individuals can achieve peak performance and this one, the latest co-authored by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton is one of the best. True to form, they conducted wide and deep research over a period of several years to find an answer to an especially important question: “What does all the new science reveal about how to become a results-driven, high-impact leader?”

The title of one of Marshall Goldsmith’s recent books suggests that “what got you here won’t get you there.” I am of the opinion that “what got you here won’t even let you remain here,” whatever and wherever “here” may be. In this context, I am again reminded of Richard Dawkins’ assertion: “Yesterday’s dangerous idea is today’s orthodoxy and tomorrow’s cliché.” All organizations — regardless of their size and nature — need effective leaders at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. One of a leader’s most important responsibilities is to guide, nourish, and — when necessary — defend collaborative efforts. I cannot recall a prior time when the business world was more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than it is today.

Presumably this is what Gostick and Elton have in mind when noting that “researchers at Gallup have found managers’ behaviors explain 70 percent of the variance in employees’ daily work engagement, and academics from Stanford University and the University of Utah have discovered That nine-person teams led by engaging bosses are as productive as ten person teams led by average or poor bosses. Our 3,000 person research study found profitability was as much as three times higher in work groups where managers drove higher levels of worker engagement, enablement, and energy.”

Gostick and Elton stress the importance of five disciplines to the management styles of the best leaders of teams today:

Discipline 1: Understand Generations — Help Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers Get Along
Discipline 2: Manage the One — “Give the Man His Guitar” to Accelerate Career Development
Discipline 3: Speed Productivity — Help New People and Teams Work Faster and Smarter
Discipline 4: Challenge Everything — Inspire Innovation Through Healthy Discord
Discipline 5: Now, Don’t Forget Your Customers — Create Alignment Around Serving Them

These are among the key components of the WHAT of business success and all are well-known. Gostick and Elton are uniquely well-qualified to explain thoroughly HOW to develop the skills needed to accelerate personal growth and professional development in a global marketplace that seems more disrupted each day. Their research clearly indicates that best teams are led by people who understand the power of cross-generational collaboration, alignment of workers’ career goals with organization objectives, getting more done with less time and fewer resources, taking no one and nothing for granted, and meanwhile continuing to be customer-driven in terms of value creation. Peter Drucker nailed it decades ago when suggesting, “If you don’t have a customer, you don’t have a business.”

I think this is Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton’s most valuable book thus far because I expect it to have wider and deeper impact than any of their business bestsellers that preceded it. They demonstrate with their own personal growth and professional development the practical wisdom of this ancient African proverb: “If you want to get fast. go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

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