The Loyalist Team: A book review by Bob Morris

The Loyalist Team: How Trust, Candor, and Authenticity Create Great Organizations
Linda Adams, Abby Curnow-Chavez, Audrey Epstein, and Rebecca Teasdale with Jody Berger
PublicAffairs (September 2017)

How and why “only Loyalist Teams consistently deliver extraordinary value”

Why did Linda Adams, Abby Curnow-Chavez, Audrey Epstein, and Rebecca Teasdale with Jody Berger write this book? Having worked with thousands of teams over the years, they wanted to share what they learned about how and why the highest performing teams in any organization and industry are the ones we call Loyalist Teams. They are teams that create new markets, lead existing ones, and skillfully maneuver through any and all challenges. The envy of their peers, they create a strategic advantage that’s impossible to replicate.

“The individuals on these teams are skilled, accomplished, and driven but what sets them apart is that they trust, challenge, and push one another to exceed expectations. They are loyal to one another, the team, and the larger organization. These individuals work to ensure each other’s success as they work to ensure their own. They run toward the tough not away, and refuse to let each other fail. Team members give honest feedback and support. And regardless of the challenges faced and the hard work required, members of these teams are having fun.

“There are teams that may function at this level for a limited time, but only Loyalist Teams consistently deliver extraordinary value.”

As I read and highlighted these passages in the Introduction, I was again reminded of great teams in athletics (Boston Celtics’ 17 championships in the NBA, the New York Yankees’ 27 World Series championships, and U.C.L.A. men’s basketball’s 10 championships in 12 years; the Disney animators who created classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, and Pinocchio; Xerox PARC, the Manhattan Project, and Lockheed’s “Skunk Works, and the Pixar animators who received 17 Academy Awards for their films. Special ops military teams should also be acknowledged, notably Navy SEAL Team Six, Delta Force, and Great Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS). Perhaps the best examples of loyalist teams are those within with NASA who collaborated on various space explorations.

Of special interest to me is the Loyalist Team 3D (360º) assessment. According to the co-authors, it “allows us to design a customized strategy to increase the team’s effectiveness for each client. It also lets us hold up a mirror in which the team can see itself clearly, often for the first time.”

Loyalist Team 3D (360º) assessment is especially helpful when selecting where within the given operations a team needs to focus its attention and resources. With rare exception, course correction/modification is inevitable and probably imperative. Different teams have different strengths and weaknesses. The co-authors have identified four different team types: “Saboteur Teams, for example, have much more deeply ingrained patterns of dysfunction than Benign Saboteur or situational Loyalist Teams…The two middle team types, Benign Saboteur and Situational Loyalist, are more passive in their actions and attitude…In short, Saboteur Teams need a turnaround, Benign Saboteur Teams need a wake-up call, Situational Loyalist Teams need a nudge, and Loyalist Teams need to find their next challenge.

Having been fully engaged with hundreds of teams over the years, I fully agree with the co-authors that forming a Loyalist Team is far easier than retaining its focus, commitment, sense of purpose, morale, and momentum, onLinda Adams, Abby Curnow-Chavez, Audrey Epstein, and Rebecca Teasdale with Jody Bergerce its work has begun.

conclude their book with eight insights (see Pages 200-202) that can help to sustain a Loyalist Team, especially now when the global marketplace is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can remember.

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