Learning – The Foundation of Team Performance

In my previous post, I explored why a learning environment is one of the most critical components of high performing teams, based on a recently published study by a group of researchers from Belgium and the Netherlands. Today, I’ll discuss the one key ingredient to building a learning environment within teams – leadership. Alright, so we’ve established that according to research, high performing teams are teams that are always learning. This is a very nice ideal, I’m sure you’re thinking, but when it comes to the real world, it’s not always as easy to implement as it sounds. Well, I would completely agree with you. Taking the risk to share your personal ideas with the team can make you vulnerable, while ensuring that ideas and strategies are “co-constructed” often requires usual protocols to be modified. Seeking constructive conflicts means that we need to override our natural tendency to harmonize our differences, while offering honest feedback during reflections can harm team relationships. All things considered, it’s easy to understand why most teams struggle to create a culture of learning. Yet, it’s essential to team performance…so what do we do? We lead. According to the data from Koeslag-Kreunen and her associates’ study, leadership within a team positively influences the extent to which members engage in learning behaviors (e.g., sharing ideas, reflecting, taking action, etc.). It’s undeniable that leadership can facilitate team learning – at least, according to the research. Because team members usually don’t engage in team learning behaviour automatically, leaders have to guide their team as they pursue the process of learning. Leaders have to establish learning as a norm...

How Investing in Network Building can Boost Your Company’s Bottom Line: Part 2

“If I hadn’t bumped into Nick out of the blue that day, if he hadn’t been curious and taken interest, my project would have been just another project. Instead, it became a huge win…Literally, this fix saved us thousands of dollars every time we ran a similar process – when we scaled it, the savings were dramatic.” One of the most important insights that Cross and Garau uncovered in their recently published study is this: strong personal networks play a key role in the success of the highest performers across organizations because they produce innovative solutions and ideas. Now, you may have noticed that I phrased the above sentence in a very particular way. I could have said that “networks help produce innovative solutions and ideas”…but instead, I intentionally aimed to emphasize that it is these high performers’ networks themselves that generated the innovative ideas. Networks don’t just support innovation…networks are usually the source of innovation. When faced with major organizational challenges, such as cost reduction, leaders need innovative solutions. The traditional approach that comes to mind when we think about innovation is that a leader brainstorms and comes up with a brilliant solution to the problem, then implements it and the rest of the organization follows suit. Well, we may just be dead wrong in assuming, and perhaps expecting, that this is how innovation happens. Surprisingly, the high performers that were interviewed in this study tapped into their broad and diverse network early on to help them clarify the problem and explore solutions. They didn’t feel the need to perfect their ideas before exposing it to others –...

How Investing in Network Building can Boost Your Company’s Bottom Line: Part 1

“When asked about how the highest performers executed work effectively, how they produced innovative solutions or times when they were thriving in their career, they would quickly start to talk about the people involved. Without realizing it, they were describing their networks…” – Rob Cross and Rebecca Garau At Summit, we often run team building programs with large groups and companies that involve hundreds of participants. One question that we frequently get asked is why these companies should invest in these large programs that only span 1-2 hours, and what the return-on-investment for these programs will be. Over the years, we’ve learned that one of the most valuable outcomes of these programs is the opportunity that it provides for members of large companies to build their networks (hence, why we sometimes call them network building programs). In the corporate world of 2018, we intuitively understand the value of strong networks, but it’s often unclear how it will directly benefit a company’s bottom line. Fortunately, recent research by The Connected Commons addresses this exact issue. In a research project published less than two months ago, Rob Cross (Professor of Global Leadership at Babson College and frequent writer for the Harvard Business Review) and his colleague Rebecca Garau interviewed 160 of the most engaged and high performing leaders across 20 different well-known organizations in a variety of sectors, from financial services to life sciences. They took a deeper look into the strategies that these highest performers in these organizations used to build, maintain, and leverage their personal networks, and in the process, uncovered exactly how strong personal networks can significantly benefit the...