Great Organisations Are Built Around Great Teams
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Leadership, as it must be, is strategic. It's to step back, see the big picture and, to the extent possible, create tomorrow in the room, today. Covid is but one piece of a chaotic and ever changing political, economic, societal, business and interconnected leadership puzzle. At the centre of all of this is 'the team' … a basic and fundamental blueprint for organisational and personal success.

What follows is intended as a practical guide for:

  1. Setting the scene for a virtual team.
  2. A new or established leader who needs to take the team to the next level.
  3. The executive who feels that, as the organisation navigates the turbulent waters of change, the team is losing its impact.
  4. The HR executive, division head or external recruitment specialist (e.g., the executive search consultant) who, in orchestrating team fit, needs to understand the team they are hiring into.
  5. A manager or external resource faced with the challenge of coaching the team.

Read "Great Organisations Are Built Around Great Teams" leadership insights

It's All About Culture

Culture is only real for as long as those involved believe that it's real. And it's meaningful and sustainable only for as long as those in key leadership roles reinforce that reality through their day-to-day behaviour. What a leader does is far more important than anything they might say!

Without effective processes that support a customer-centric, quality-driven, end-to-end value chain, confusion, conflict and lost capacity are inevitable. Without measurement, organisation culture is destined to remain of secondary importance; overwhelmed by the operational emergencies that all too often dominate decision-making. To lead, to inspire, to take people where they otherwise would not go is to be both artisan and artist. Think of these capabilities as the bricks and mortar (glue) of culture. To instill something that goes deep, to build something that lasts … both are essential.

Culture isn't "out there". It's not of secondary importance. And it's not a project, a by-product of the engagement survey, the exclusive domain of the HR department, a silent drumbeat that echoes from the past, a change management program, and/or "something we need to get to".

Culture is the here and now, it's practical and it's the very essence - one might call it "the soul" – of the organisation.

The organisation's strategy, be it one page or an overly complex plan, contains within it deep-rooted cultural assumptions. All projects and/or strategic initiatives are imprinted by, intended or, more often than not, unintentional "messaging" that shape how those charged with delivering the strategy define success.

In an organisation with a strong and agile culture (StrAgility), the signals that shape culture are deliberate, overt and consistent - that is, aligned with the culture the organisation needs to create. In organisations that have fallen into "culture drift" - we might not invest much time on culture but there is an overall feeling that we are on the right track - the absence of the deliberate cultural intent carries its own message - "the status quo rules."

The dilemma with a philosophy of "more of the same" is that culture changes whether you want it to or not. In an organisation that "manages culture", the signals that emphasise "team" are integral to the organisation's very DNA. To that end, consider the questions below:

  • Is the strategic direction being driven into the organisation a single, linear, unidimensional plan … or is "managing uncertainty" supported by a series of well thought through strategic scenarios?
  • In team review meetings, coaching sessions, business development approaches and all things to do with performance management, is the culture the organisation needs to create: (1) aligned with what tomorrow's customers want to buy; (2) drawn out of sound measurement; and (3) fully supported by middle managers?
  • Are the organisation's values clear? Do those values reinforce the importance of teamwork?
  • The real challenge with strategy is implementation. Meanwhile, turning direction into delivery rests, in no small measure, on buy-in from the middle kingdom. Is the strategy presented as a series of numbers and charts or has it been translated into a compelling story? Information, as the term implies, "informs." The right story inspires.
  • Do the stories that dominate celebrate the lone hero/heroine … or do they recognise that no one makes it on their own?
  • Do the hiring, promotion, high potential and success processes emphasise team fit? As we move to more flexible organisation forms - as the team becomes the basic building block of organisation performance - success as both a team leader and a team player becomes the difference that makes a difference.
  • Does the definition of "diversity" include not just gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and the like but cognitive diversity? The latter recognising the need for teams to be made up of members who not only come from different backgrounds but who "think differently".
  • Is it recognised that, without support and exemplary teamwork from those in the middle of the organisation, the direction the organisation needs to take is likely to remain little more than "what might have been?"
  • Does the organisation's design support or work against a strong team culture? Even a simple carpenter recognises how problematic it is to work against the grain.

"The way I think about culture is that modern humans have radically changed the way that they work and the way that they live. Companies need to change the way they manage and lead to match the way that modern humans actually work and live."

Brian Halligan, CEO, HubSpot

If the competition is managing its culture and you are trapped by culture drift, no matter how good your product, you don't have a future … you have a problem.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

When Business Goals And Company Culture Clash

Business growth and profitability is the stuff of legends. Companies that astound investors, employees and the business media with sustained or unprecedented expansion become the darlings of the global financial markets and the spotlight grows on the careers of the executive officers, non-executive directors and innovators who made it all happen.

It is not surprising, then, that we are all chasing the same dreams. Growth leads to new opportunities. New opportunities present the potential to change the things around us. And recognition enables influence on a scale sometimes unimagined.

Yet there comes a time in the development of any company - large or small, public or private - when the risk of significant imbalance between corporate objectives and company culture escalates and begins to threaten continued business growth.

It is time like those that define companies. It is in such instances when the owners of a company reveal their true intentions, inhibitions and fears. And this is precisely when high performing executives begin to ask themselves whether it makes sense to work "all out" for the growth of their business when the reality is that corporate culture or fears about how growth may change it is holding them - and their organisations - back like an anchor.

Particularly for companies with long legacies or foreign owners, the stakes are very high when it comes to aligning business growth objectives with the corporate culture insiders see as the key, unifying force that has positioned the organisation for success in the first place.

The simple truth when it comes right down to it, is that even the most ambitious corporate plans for growth may collapse under the weight of questions about retaining company culture. That is why it is essential for executives already in a key leadership role, or contemplating a move to a new company and management opportunity, to probe considerably on the state of balance between business goals and company culture.

Questions one might ask could include:

  • "What elements of the culture are the owners willing to sacrifice in order to achieve business growth?"
  • "How much growth would the owners need to realise to be convinced that the culture needs to change?" and,
  • "Am I being compensated to preserve company culture, achieve business growth, or both?" And in the very likely case the response from company owners is "both", how are the financial incentives and rewards balanced to recognise both sides of the coin?

The pursuit of big dreams forces these tough questions and requires thoughtful answers. There is a natural conflict between ambition and identity. On a human scale, it is a question of knowing one's self. In corporate terms, it is a matter of sacrifice versus comfort and the willingness to confront one's fears.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

How to Recruit Top Talent When They're Not Looking for a Career Move

Considering today's disruptive business world, it's never been more important to employ exceptional people who can navigate through and thrive within this ever-changing climate. The question is: how do you find them when they're not looking?

Many organisations struggle to fill key leadership positions because the best and brightest typically aren't seeking a career move. So, if you're posting on platforms such as LinkedIn, your chances of finding the top one percent of talent are minimal. While junior and mid-level management roles may make sense for posting online, filling higher-up positions requires something vastly different than keyword searches and filters. It requires a distinctly human element: communication and connection with the talent.

High-tech tools and experiences do have a role to play in HR, but as other industries are finding as well, people still crave a human connection. On top of wanting a human connection, many people are also experiencing "message fatigue" on platforms such as LinkedIn, particularly with regards to untargeted sales messages.

Given these factors, it's increasingly important for HR professionals to make their new opportunities stand out. However, finding passive candidates isn't easy for most organisations. Here are some key steps for recruitment success.

Start the Conversation

While A-level talent likely aren't scanning job boards, they tend to be open to having conversations about new opportunities. At Bedford Consulting Group, we search for the top talent in any given industry, whether they're in the job market or not. This way, we get to know their career goals and skill levels, and understand what they want and need from their employers.

Tell Your Story

For today's top performers, compensation isn't everything, so it will take more than a higher paycheque for them to consider a move. Company culture is critically important, and that's not something you can convey in a job posting. As recruiters, we play a key role in communicating - up close and in person - why an organisation is a great place to work.

Ask the Right Questions

Bedford has a high success rate for engaging A-level talent not currently seeking new opportunities. The secret to success? Asking the right questions. By doing so, we uncover not only their needs and motivations, but also elements of discord employees have in their current roles. We can then leverage this information and present new options that offer potential candidates what their current job isn't providing.

Understand Why They Stay

In addition to discovering what would make top talent head for the exits, it's important to find out why they stay. Most organisations have a general idea of why their overall employee population stays, but not as firm an understanding of why their top 1% stays. At Bedford Group, we employ a process called "Why Do You Stay" when interviewing high-performing employees to find out what keeps them at their current company. That information can then be used with potential top-tier candidates to convince them the company is a good one to join. If you understand why you're retaining high performers, you can leverage the insights to attract more of them.

Build a Relationship

The competition to win over top talent will only intensify, so it's critical to build and nurture relationships with candidates until the right opportunity opens up. This requires time, continual engagement and deep connections. When you have a strong relationship with the talent, chances are you can win them over with a new opportunity. At Bedford Group, we are trusted advisors to help guide people to the right opportunities with our clients.

Originally published by Steven Pezim on LinkedIn.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.