Heidrick & Struggles: Speed and Stability: A Winning Dynamic For Teams

Leading transformation

As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, hyperconnectivity is emerging as the defining characteristic of the era — with profound implications for CEOs, senior leadership teams, and entire organizations. In a hyperconnected world, incremental improvement is not enough to stay ahead of disruptive competitors. Winning requires continual transformation.

Technology that has enabled the always-connected consumer is generating massive economic opportunity for nimble, asset-light organizations. Uber, Alibaba, and Airbnb now have a combined implied valuation exceeding $300 billion. Each of these innovators has been able to quickly achieve scale with platform business models that efficiently match supply and demand to create value for all parties. The result has been major disruption to established brands in formerly capital-intensive industries that seemed impervious to rapid change because of high barriers to entry. CEOs around the world are now asking, “Can that happen in our industry?” or, more pointedly, “How can we disrupt our own industry or create a new one?”

Accelerating performance in teams

High-achieving teams enjoy a significant boost in performance over underachieving teams. The ability of an organization to accelerate its performance — in other words, to build and change momentum to get results more quickly than its competitors — is critically dependent on its teams at every level. Most organizations, however, fail to sufficiently consider the performance of teams when seeking performance improvements overall. Indeed, the vast majority of management research on organizations focuses on either the whole organism or the individual leader; the team is forgotten. And yet teams innately tend toward chaos: personalities work at odds, purpose is muddled, and success factors are vaguely defined. When a team is dysfunctional, its energy dissipates, tensions build up, and fatigue sets in — costing the organization time, money, and talent.

After forensically studying data on the dynamics and performance of more than 2,000 teams, Heidrick & Struggles have uncovered both bad and good news. The bad news is that most teams are below par and therefore suffer in their ability to build and change momentum quickly. Senior executive teams are especially poor at this. But on the upside, the energy that can be released by improving a team’s ability to accelerate performance is enormous. Taking bonus payments as a proxy for corporate performance, our research finds that high-achieving teams enjoy a 23% boost in performance compared with underachieving teams.

In this article Heidrick & Struggles explore how high-performing teams get (and stay) that way. First, they present the results of their research on teams from a range of organizations, functions, and geographies. Then, they examine trends among both high-performing and underachieving teams. Last, and most important, they offer targeted recommendations for how to improve team performance throughout the organization and achieve performance breakthroughs — and achieve them faster than the competition.

To read the full report, click here.


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