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Monday, April 4, 2011

Leadership on a Great Team

In the Core Protocols Group forum ( Jose Ramón Diaz started an interesting thread on the question of leadership on a team using the Simple Rules and Tools of Great Teams – the Core Protocols.

His question is:

“What's the role of leader on a team of this kind [one using the Core Protocols]? I am thinking that a true team using ... the Core Protocols, doesn't need a leader, but on the road to perfection, it will be needed, I suppose.”

After some answers from other forum members, Jose Ramón continues:

“The work of a leader in this kind of situations, is to not be necessary. I agree, but I find much resistance to this idea.

For you, that I suppose have experience with *great teams*, is it negative to have a leader? If there is a leader, is the team in pursuit of a shared vision, or could it be that some people follow the leader instead of their own (shared) vision?"

Since the Simple Rules and Tools of Great Teams – the Core Protocols – provide for dynamic leadership behaviour from any team member, the issue of the boss / manager / leader role can be a sticky one.

Particularly before one attends the Immersion session and learns the Simple Rules and Tools.

Particularly for the team leader!

To answer Jose Ramón, I find it helpful to be more precise and explicit about the use of the term "leader". We often use the word to mean a role in a hierarchy, and also to mean a behaviour with outcomes, such as people following.

In the Simple Rules and Tools of Great Teams Immersion (aka. BootCamp) the Managers in the simulation play the role of leader in that they assemble the team, hire consultants to help, provide the team the assignment, and monitor progress and quality of the product. At the same time, anyone on the team can behave as a leader by, for instance, proposing a course of action in a Decider (the Tool used by Great Teams to make unanimous team decisions) which the team decides to follow or not.

So the first is a leader position in an organization chart sense, the second is dynamic, changing, emergent behaviour.

The resistance Jose speaks of is usually organizational position protection. For example: I declare myself the team leader, or I have been appointed the team leader, and am going to protect my position and resist being declared unnecessary. And usually with good reason, since in most organizations teams want and wait for the leader to tell them what to do. Or at least are expected to – by the leaders!

In the Great Teams Immersion session, it is ideal to have the organizational leader present. This lets them realize that they can share the leadership behaviours with the team and be an equal with the team members in matters of developing and improving the vision, ideas, product quality, etc. It's like getting the leader's paycheque without having to do all the work.

The hard part is often getting the leader to accept that meritocracy (starting with them learning to listen well, and not get in the way), and sometimes just as hard, getting other team members to step up to the responsibilities and accountabilities of the Core Commitments to let their leadership behaviours emerge.

So having the leadership behaviours in the team is wonderful; they just don't have to come from the organizational leader on the team.

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