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Book Review: The Importance of Teams

The book concludes with workshop templates that can be used for assessing our current teams and understanding how we can up their success quotient

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Recently I was speaking at a conference for young and vibrant entrepreneurs. At this session, I had an interesting dialogue with one of the dynamic founders of a startup. The entrepreneur said that he recognised the benefits of selecting the right team. Though being in the initial phase of his business, his time was extensively used on operations and finance, not HR! He wanted to know that even with the best hires, why was he finding it difficult to get the the team working in the desired direction? Why was attrition already setting in this relatively new and well-compensated team? As many of you may have guessed, I told this founder that he had missed out on one of the key essentials – his people. Teams are like plants that have to be watered, exposed to sunlight and nurtured from the very start and every day.

The necessity of a team on an organisational and personal level, was recently reiterated while I was reading the book ‘Stronger Together(How Great Teams Work)’ by Simon Hartley. The book is rich with insights, covers several concepts in detail and yet the author has managed to keep it simple. The simplicity of the book makes it an anytime read for anyone. This enjoyable and informative book made me think, reminisce and reflect.

Hartley is a globally recognised sport psychology consultant and performance coach. The examples used in this book are mainly from the sports background. Yet, I was able to easily relate them to several great team experiences sprinkled across my 20 plus years in the corporate world.

An important section of the book is on world-class teams that is the lifeblood of organisational success. The author has identified high focus, shared standards and expectations and employee engagement as some of the key elements of leading teams. I feel grateful to have spent a significant part of my career working for a world–class team at Infosys. At Infosys, the operations and business heads would meet up once a year with the members of the Board for strategic planning. During this time, we would all come together and define the strategic goals for the next financial year. The leadership team would also clearly communicate the shared expectations from each function.

In my experience, during the Great Recession that hit us around 2007-2009, it was the organisations that had invested in employee engagement and loyalty to build strong teams, were the ones who were able to better withstand the economic downturn.

Another important aspect that has been covered in-depth in the book is, collective team purpose. Each individual in the group has to be aligned and committed to achieving the common team goal. Organisations need to focus on gender diversity and inclusion for women in technology.

While every team member is crucial to the success of the team, a team cannot be successful without an effective leader. The author mentions that “leaders answer the why? What? How? When? and Who?”, in turn, empowering their teams to deliver the best outcomes. Even the most efficient and committed teams fail, in the absence of a strong leadership. In my professional journey, it is my leaders who played the important roles of mentors and sponsors that led to the many opportunities and successes I have experienced.

The book concludes with workshop templates that can be used for assessing our current teams and understanding how we can up their success quotient.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Geetha Kannan

The author is MD, The Anita Borg Institute (ABI) India

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