In today’s fast-paced, demanding business world, it’s more important than ever for teams to be high performing. A recent study of global organizations (Deloitte, 2016) found that nearly two-thirds of all companies are organized by cross-functional teams rather than purely by functions. Teams must operate full-tilt even when they see each other infrequently, haven’t had a chance to get to know each other, and have no experience in each other’s areas. They have little time, and often, not much insight about how to do this. It’s a lot to ask of any team.
The importance of having high performing teams isn’t new. What has changed in just a few years’ time is the definition of a high performing team. And that’s because of what is required of teams today. They must work at the speed of change, manage frequent disruption, and try to stay ahead of the pace of advancing technology. Teams that find a way to do this make their companies competitive.
The challenge is that this is hard. Team failures are costly, and it is rarely external forces that create the impediment. In a recent study (Harvard Business Review, 2016) executives estimate that their companies lost an average of over $10 million per year because teams were avoiding conflict, lacked the curiosity to learn from others, or fell victim to analysis paralysis.
Why redefine high performing teams now?
These statistics are more than just numbers to us. We work with leaders every day who struggle to crack the code with their teams and see the costs and hurdles these challenges create disrupt and derail their big plans for sustained growth and competitive advantage.
We decided it was time to gather our experience working with teams and leaders, the expertise and data-driven insights gained through implementing our Bates Executive Presence Index (ExPITM) for 4 years, together with the latest global research on teams, to come up with a new way to define and model the behaviors that comprise a high performing team.
That is where the Bates LTPI™ (Leadership Team Performance Index) comes in. This new model and assessment provides teams and their leaders keen insights into the essential behaviors that typify today’s high performing teams.
What is Bates’ definition of a “high performing team?”
From our perspective at Bates, a high performing team sets free the genius of its members to create the extraordinary together. This definition was developed after extensive research and building a new model of high team performance.
What do we measure?
The LTPITM doesn’t measure tendencies, but team behaviors – on a Likert Scale (1-5) – providing feedback to the team on 3 dimensions – Culture, Credibility, and Collaboration – and 15 facets to see if their actions help or hinder performance. You might think of it as how the team is “showing up.”
We created the assessment with the objective of shining a light on the team’s collective strengths and gaps, in real time, with the goal of interpreting that data in context with the team’s mission, goals and challenges.
What’s new about the Bates LTPI™ Assessment and our approach to team performance?
The new Bates Leadership Team Performance Model and LTPI™ (Leadership Team Performance Index) Assessment offer a unique perspective and way to measure what is emerging in the literature as essential to high performing teams today. Several features set apart this model from others.
The Bates LTPI™:
- Looks at the team “as a whole”
- Draws on the latest global research
- Addresses today’s emerging organizational challenges
- Is context-specific to the team’s business imperatives
- Highlights gaps between the team’s intentions and perceptions
- Aligns with the Bates ExPI™, a multi-rater 360, that measures individual executive presence
(Read more about these differentiating elements here.)
What is different about the way we are thinking about emerging trends and challenges?
Here are a few examples of how at the facet level of the model, we are addressing emerging organizational challenges and measuring the kinds of behaviors needed for teams to excel in this new era.
Both/And Thinking – Appreciating that complexity means opposing ideas can both contain truths
This is one of the newest, most important emerging areas of team performance. High performing teams live comfortably with opposing ideas, objectives or approaches. A simple example is the team responsible for driving innovation, while also growing profitably. The requirements of achieving these two goals are different.
Belonging – Valuing and respecting differences; fostering an environment where all experience a fullness of membership and affiliation
Belonging is a condition in which all team members feel genuinely at ease and comfortable with others on a personal and professional level. To realize the potential of the combined talents, experiences, and qualities of a team in today’s matrixed, global organizations, it is more important than ever that members feel valued, respected, and welcomed wholeheartedly into the team environment.
The best teams make time for, and welcome dialogue, and seek to understand each other, rather than just get along.
Resilience – Being calm, steady, resolute, and focused in times of challenge or crisis; agile and adaptive in the face of challenge
Change and disruption are constant, and few things go according to plan. High performing teams bounce back and adapt after setbacks. They muster themselves after disappointments to re-evaluate the situation, analyze options, and respond. They remain calm and model composure for people around them.
Courage – Facing difficult or uncertain situations by acting in a bold, timely, decisive manner; challenging authority for a purpose
Those in leadership positions must make the call even when they do not have all the information. High performing teams embrace this responsibility and make the tough decisions in a timely way. A courageous team deals with issues promptly, doesn’t avoid hard choices, and constructively debates to get to a better answer. Members are not afraid to challenge, for a purpose, powerful and influential people and groups. The team embraces the hard tasks, accepts ownership and holds itself accountable for outcomes.
Trust – Living up to high standards and mutual accountability
Trust is hardly new in the literature on high performing teams. It’s the foundation of all relationships, personal and professional and is essential in forming attachments and making commitments. A betrayal of trust is difficult to repair, which is why high performing teams attend to the conditions that foster trust. High performing teams depend on each other to get work done and live up to commitments. They recognize that trust is built, not something that occurs spontaneously.