Two more Master Keys behind
the Culture of Agile High-Performance Organizations – Leaders and Teams

In our article from last week, we investigated the Keys behind the Culture of Agile High-Performance Organizations as a whole and highlighted Communications as one of it´s main pillars.

No doubt, a cornerstone in the Communications system of an HPO is internal communication, both verbal and non-verbal. The vertical and horizontal flow of information must be guaranteed, cross-functional, cross-sectional, “cross-teams”. Neither the company nor its people will grow to build an Agile HPO and meet its purpose without a permanent, trustful, open, encouraging, and demanding interaction – including talks and providing information – between leaders and teams and vice versa.

What roles do leaders and teams play? The plural in “roles” is linguistically correct but, in fact, it is a joint role they play to meet the purpose of the company and have it make an impact on customers and society.

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They´re done by a team of people.”

Steve Jobs

These are the protagonists:

The special tasks of Leadership

No doubt, it´s their responsibility to set the overall direction, the purpose, if needed the Massive Transformation Purpose, and design the appropriate strategy.

They draw up the action plan and the company OKRs for all the organization, including group companies, and set up the timeframe. Leadership is the link between the OKRs of individuals and teams and the company OKRs.

They take responsibility for measuring the performance of the individual employee, the teams and the organization – data-based, transparent, comprehensible, of course.

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Leadership also means “Communicatiorship”: it is decisive to implement a reliable and complete system of communication to ensure that everyone is familiar with the organization´s purpose, values,  strategy and OKRs. No one must be excluded since it´s crucial for the outcomes of an organization that everyone knows about the overall goal and the journey to get there so that he/she can make the appropriate contribution.

Thinking outside the box, i. e. the organization, is also an important task for leadership. Not only do they have to survey the outside environment and context to probably adapt purpose and strategy without delay but also to keep in touch with the customers to regularly get new insights and information to deploy to the responsible teams so that they can immediately adapt their OKRs as well.

The special tasks of the Teams

Agile high-performing teams are networked, self-organized and self-sufficient, they are the vital part to evolve the living organism “Agile HPO”.

Since silos have been broken up, they are networked, cross-functional and cross-sector teams that have been built around work processes to collaborate and achieve the organization´s purpose as well as to place the customer at the center of their work.

Team members are professionals, internal and external, employees and consultants, in different fields, setting up their own team OKRs and elaborate the strategy on how to achieve them.

The teams are self-sufficient since they have the skills and staffing to perform all critical functions within the team: They have freedom to onboard, experiment, test, measure, iterate and innovate and bring in all their various skills to reach their common objectives. But they also have the responsibility since they are the business owners of an internal startup. However, these self-organized, self-sufficient teams cannot but collaborate with other teams if needed to achieve the mutual OKRs. Networks also build dependencies.

The team is not meant to be a safe haven where you can rely on others: “Well, they´ll get it done!”. Each one in the organization takes ownership and is accountable for the work they do. The team (as well as the leader) will support you to manage challenging tasks but it´s you who has to learn and train if you feel not capable enough for your work – lifelong. 

To make sure that everyone in the team is involved with hearts&hands in the quest for the commonly agreed team OKRs, it’s advisable to have the team work in shifts, so all team members are able to use and improve their skills, learn, innovate, grow and be part of the success.

Leaders and Teams – the joint role

People communicate – every minute, everywhere, in a lot of different ways. We are a communications society. A company also has to be a comm“Great teams shape and are shaped by great leaders.”

From the Internet

To be added: And together they shape their organization and finally they #SHAPETHENEXT.

In Agile High-Performance Organizations, as we of ActioGlobal understand them after 20 years of experience in many different sectors, leaders and teams do not move in different orbits like planets.

It´s no longer “We on top-floor and you down there”. It´s “We all at the Gemba”.

The Management Team´s (!) first big task when starting a transformation or change process toward an Agile HPO is to hold a big event with all the people in the organization – on-site + digital –  to introduce the new way of working and the mindset needed to achieve the common target. Leadership explains the what and why, the purpose, people ask questions and bring in their experiences and ideas. Both parties have started their dialogue.

Openness, transparency, breaking up silos, sharing information and experience: WE are rowing the same boat in the same direction. 

It´s not just talking and using nice quotes, it´s taking part. Additionally to the appointed team leaders, it´s Members of the Management Team who take over a second role, they are the “Sherpas”. Literally, because they guide and support the teams when it comes to removing obstacles and unblocking dead ends for the teams that have set up their own OKRs to meet to achieve the company OKRs to fulfill the overall purpose. What a sentence! But that´s the way the joint TEAM ensures the seamless flow of the processes.

Leaders and teams have a huge meeting room available for their dialogue and discussion in Daylies and Weeklies: the Gemba. They meet (preferably together with their Sherpas) on-the-floor and Gemba Walks and Talks result in shared experiences, observations, and, especially for the leaders, in a  deep understanding of the work. It´s in this “meeting room” where they will also understand why defects happen and what to do to avoid them. This is the place where teams mentor and coach their leaders.

The meeting room gets even larger since both large and small organizations are part of a worldwide economic network and collaborate across cultures and continents. Modern technology is the magic word. Internal and external professionals can get in touch whenever appropriate and needed by digital tools. Even people in the same town more and more tend to work remotely. Digitalization has to be another objective for the Massive Transformation Purpose of becoming a Digital Agile High-Performance Organization at the end of the day.

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This way of “taking part” of leadership also allows for quick-decision making, right on the spot, on the evidence and in a common way. Additionally, it´s this common knowledge and experience on what is going on on-the-floor, at the Gemba, that enables leaders to mentor and coach their people, help them reach their objectives and help them grow.

Not to get lost in a manifold of endless loops of meetings, discussion, reportings and decision making, the management structure has to be as lean as possible. Reporting relationships are no longer strictly vertical, they are horizontal and fluid since even the Management Team is involved in the teams network.

It´s not only the teams that grow but every single team member as well. The individual team member contributes with his/her expertise, his/her experiences, creativity and innovative mindset to the challenging work of the team. Teams are in perpetual exchange with each other since there are dependencies in their OKRs, so there is also a cross-team transfer of knowledge and expertise. This way, the teams incorporate business mastery and develop to achieve their OKRs.

Since everyone in the TEAM experiences that his/her contribution to the overall success of the organization is crucial, that he/she is able to succeed in challenging tasks and is helped and can help others – not matter what function – learn and grow, the self-actualization the new Generations Y and Z are expecting from their work is guaranteed. Well-being and self-motivation are additional gains. This is one more connecting link to the model of New Work.

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The teams as the business owners strive to achieve their team OKRs but not like “they have always done before” but by improving their ways of working, innovating and making an impact. They cannot do this with a snap of their fingers. This new way of working requires iterations to fix standards for not making innovations by chance but by systemic and continuous improvement.

Learning and Developing by doing and the mentioned transfers – yes, but nevertheless, regular organized training and development is essential. Career and development plans make sure that the learning and development is done target-oriented both on-the-job, in web or in training room programs provided by external experts (like us, please allow me to add this).

Again, it´s a great benefit for the organization to have plans and processes to leverage the talents and strengths of each individual collaborator.

Finally, here´s the most relevant question: What will your company tangibly win by becoming a Digital Agile High-Performance Organization?

Outcomes. Even the 3 keys outlined in the two articles – Communication – Leadership – Teams showed that working in this modern way will deliver better and sustained business results. Tangible in areas like customer and employee satisfaction, quality, service and cost. Let´s be honest: the business world is no wonderland, it´s the company´s income but it´s the the company´s outcomes (mind: not output) described above that form the foundation.

The smaller entities TEAMS in contact with the Management Team will enable your company to better and faster react and adapt to changed business needs and environment.

People recognize that their work makes an impact. Employee engagement will be markedly higher than before: your people understand the purpose, the need for change and appreciate the freedom to experiment and innovate in their teams.

As a Digital Agile High-Performance Organization, you´ll be a leading company to shape the future as well as the employer of choice for the best talents among the new generations.




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