Some thoughts on growing great teams and the leadership ideals that can inspire them:
One person who embodies the leadership qualities of growing high performing teams that contribute to developing a Level 5 culture is General (retired) Colin Powell. I had the privilege to serve on his personal staff when he was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I observed him radiate the qualities that help to create a Level 5 culture. He was unquestionably the leader of the organization, in addition to being one of the leaders of the United States. However, when he talked to someone, his focus and presence made him or her feel as though s/he were the only person in the room. General Powell understood the critical importance of building and leading integrated teams in creating a culture of excellence:
Every good leader I have known understands instinctively the need to communicate to followers a common purpose, a purpose that comes down from the leader and is internalized by the entire team. Armed with a common purpose, an organization’s various parts will strive to achieve that purpose and will not go riding off in every direction.
I have also seen many organizations that resemble nothing less than warring tribes. They usually fail.
— from It Worked for Me in Life and Leadership, General (retired) Colin Powell with Tony Koltz. New York: Harper Collins, 2012, p. 207.
General Powell insisted on cooperation and shared values among the 1500 members of the Joint Staff, which was largely made up of senior officers of all the military services as well as senior civilian executives. Big egos didn’t last long on his team of teams. He clearly understood the importance of setting individual egos aside.
Effective, disciplined team leadership is thus a core element of building a Level 5 culture. Great leaders have to be deliberate in establishing the environment where “we” replaces “I” in the way people think and behave, every day. They must see beyond themselves.
Enjoy the journey!
This blog is based on material from my book “We’re All In.” You can get a copy of the first chapter for free here.
If you’d like a full copy of the entire book, you can get it here.
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