The Team of Teams
In his book, “One Mission – How Leaders Build a Team of Teams,” author Chris Fussell underscores the importance of aligning teams to accomplish a mission. He discusses how U.S. leaders fighting against Al Qaeda and ISIS in Iraq and Afghanistan discovered that their forces were composed of separate “tribes” – Navy Seals, Rangers, Marines, Army and civilian operatives. Each tribe, or team, had its own unique culture and customs.
In contrast, the insurgents, united in their beliefs, could execute a unified mission to hold their own despite the U.S. forces’ superior technology. It became clear that misalignment of the U.S. forces created friction in the flow of critical information. Intelligence became stale, dated and unactionable.
For U.S. forces to succeed, the culture had to support the agility, adaptability, and cohesion of a small team with the power and resources of the overall organization. There had to be one team comprised of many – a “team of teams.” unified in its focus and mission by a shared culture.
The Equation to Drive Cultural Transformation to Unify Teams
Companies also need a shared culture to unify their teams toward accomplishing their missions – a task that becomes more difficult as companies merge and grow. Before a unifying narrative can be executed, however, it’s important to understand this equation:
Credibility = Proven Competence + Integrity + Relationships
Everything leadership teams do must be based on credibility. Team members must believe in the mission and be consistent in their actions. Otherwise, credibility goes out the door.
Relationships represent the “x” factor in the equation. Team members must understand what others face, the battles they fight and their “tribal norms” in order to build trust. Without trust in each other, credibility fails along with the ability to execute the transformation needed to align the teams.
The Unifying Narrative to Accomplish “One Mission”
Within Client Relations at FIS | Payments, our mission is simple:
Ensure a consistently excellent client experience in every interaction.
However, creating a positive and memorable experience does not happen by accident. It’s deliberate. It’s repeatable.
I’ll borrow an example from Dee Ann Turner’s book “It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and Compelling Culture,” which shares Chick-fil-A’s three keys of “enrolling” people in its culture to provide consistently excellent customer experiences:
1. Recruit for culture. Focus on character, competency, and chemistry – the 3 Cs that support the culture and ensure consistency across a large group of people.
2. Nurture talent by telling the truth. Transparency fosters the foundation of trust that enables people to embrace a company’s values.
3. Engage customers in the culture. Culture is meant to be experienced by customers as well as employees. A positive culture is infectious and can mean the difference between keeping and losing a customer.
Integrity must be important to senior leaders, even if no one is watching. Team members, in turn, will be able to sense and appropriate this behavior.
Putting “One Mission” Into Action
Putting the goal of “one mission” into action requires participation at both team and individual levels. At FIS, we hold team meetings regularly with the goal of ensuring that all areas within our broader organization are on the same page about what’s working and where we must improve. But regular team meetings aren’t sufficient to unify a culture. What unifies a “team of teams” is working with others day-to-day toward the common goal – whether it’s Chick-fil-A’ goal to delight its customers or the U.S. forces’ goal to defeat ISIS.
• We can gain additional insights and broader understanding of the issues we face on a daily basis by pairing with peers in other parts of the organization.
• We need to take time to get to know one another while building relationships to work on each other’s behalf to ensure success.
• We must be responsive to colleagues’ requests and provide timely communications – a critical component of our collective success.
• We must meet our commitments.
• We also need to celebrate success and bring enthusiasm and passion to delight to work every day.
When you think about your company’s mission, ask yourself if you can answer each of these three questions with a “yes”:
• Are you demonstrating your company’s values in how you engage with clients and colleagues?
• Are you fully aware of your role’s impact on your clients and their experience with your company?
• Are you acting with urgency to share critical information with peers and clients to ensure a consistently excellent client experience?
If you cannot answer “yes” to each of these questions, recognize that individuals’ shortfalls damage the mission to provide a consistently excellent client experience. No one wins through complacency and maintaining the status quo.
But, If you answer “yes” to each of these questions, you are living “one mission.” Congratulations!