Book Summary: Great Business Teams

We can be certain of one thing in business, according to Howard M. Guttman: great teams build excellent organizations.

Even when good and mediocre teams achieve deadlines and remain under budget, the status quo is maintained. They don't go above. They create both good and ordinary businesses.

So, what distinguishes great business teams, and how can they be reproduced across an organization?

Great business teams, according to Guttman, are high-performing, horizontal teams that work together to produce the best outcomes.

You, too, can accomplish such exceptional results with hard effort and acknowledgment.

For the following 10 minutes, we'll show you how.

Great Teams Lesson 1

Great team work working together at office.

Guttman recommends starting at the top. High-performance leaders lead great business teams: leaders who are pressed for time, leaders who are dissatisfied with the current situation.

While many company leaders are visionaries, high-performance leaders have a vision that is distinct from the others. They have the eye of an architect, able to see the whole picture — the plan, not simply the idea — when it comes to building a successful business organization.

Most businesses operate on a hub-and-spoke basis, with decisions emanating from a central point of control. They aren't designed for speed or high performance.

To achieve exceptional results, high-performance leaders have abandoned the traditional hierarchical paradigm in favor of a "flat," horizontal one. The realization that they can't do it alone is at the heart of this concept.

In the presence of high-performing teams, high-performance leaders think they are more powerful and effective.

High-performing leaders don't need to have their egos stroked. It's not going to be their way or the highway. They empower team members to make decisions and create outcomes, but they also hold them accountable for their actions.

Guttman believes that a high-performing team is a team with leaders rather than a team without a leader.

As a result, outstanding team members feel they are responsible for their own success and their coworkers' performance — even those who do not report to them.

Great Teams Lesson 2

Great team work of playing game.

Nothing is left to chance when you work with a strong business team. They spend time developing and adhering to strict procedures.

Great business teams know exactly what choices they need to make, who will make them, and how they will be made.

A strong corporate team follows a well-defined set of decision-making procedures, with everyone knowing what they're responsible for and taking ownership of the outcomes.

Employees in great teams are given the chance and skills to decide who needs to be engaged in solving problems, making choices, dividing tasks, and taking the required steps to allow people to put it all together through the sharing of shared alignment.

According to Guttman, when an organization's components are correctly aligned, they work together to accomplish outcomes.

When limited human, financial, and capital resources are efficiently utilized, value is generated quickly, reliably, and at low cost.

There is alignment in five major areas:

  1. A well-communicated and well-understood business plan
  2. Business deliverables identified and assigned as a result of the plan
  3. Individual and functional roles and duties that are clearly defined and relevant
  4. Strict decision-making and conflict-resolution processes
  5. Interdependencies and strong, collaborative business/interpersonal connections

Great Teams Lesson 3

Guttman feels that transparency is essential for a successful corporate team. You have the right to express yourself if you have an opinion.

If there is a disagreement, you may address it without retaliation. You are free to submit comments as long as it is depersonalized and fact-based.

Traditional hierarchical responsibility is turned on its head in a horizontal organization.

Horizontal accountability means being equally accountable for the success of both peers and leaders.

Great team leaders understand that they must lead by example for horizontal responsibility to take root. It is acceptable and expected for team members to hold the leader accountable for business outcomes, protocol compliance, and interpersonal conduct.

Great Teams Lesson 4

One of the hallmarks of all great business teams, according to Guttman, is that they constantly increase the performance standard.

The greatest teams are continually looking for ways to improve, just like professional golfers who seek to cut a few strokes off their handicap.

To do so, high-performance leaders look at two things: the person's level of engagement — how committed they are to working as part of a team — and the person's abilities — the knowledge and expertise they bring to the table.

The leader will need to be straightforward with guidance for individuals who have poor involvement or abilities. The leader takes on a coaching role with individuals who have a low degree of involvement.

Those with a somewhat high degree of engagement will respond well to working with the leader. In contrast, those with a high level of attention may be left alone by the leader.

Great Teams Lesson 5

A good leader giving motivation to his employee.

To be a part of a high-performing team, Guttman's research suggests that there are certain qualities and behaviors you must possess.

Think Like a Director

Great teams consider themselves to be members of a board of directors. They retain their focus on the big picture: the firm's results to stay ahead of the competition.

They are concerned with the company's overall health rather than the health of any department or function. They are devoted to optimizing ROI with every choice.

Put Team First, Function Second

Members of high-performing teams are first and foremost team members, followed by functional representatives.

When needed, they share their technical skills across functions, and they don't hesitate to assist others when they see a problem.

Embrace Accountability

Without requesting permission from above, great team members face challenges front-on and develop their own answers.

They are sure that their superiors would not only permit but also expect them to do so.


Players in any team, according to Guttman, require three sorts of skills: technical, strategic, and leadership.

Technical abilities are more significant at the entry-level of management and lower. In contrast, strategic skills become more vital as people go up the management ladder.

However, as a member of a leadership team, every member of a great team needs the same level of leadership abilities, including the capacity to influence others.

Great Teams Lesson 6

A good teamwork is discussing something together.

When a group is united and devoted to a shared goal...

When it concentrates on the business deliverables that result from that path...

After it has a clear understanding of its duties and responsibilities...

After decision-making processes have been established...

When there are no silos in the workplace, and business ties are open...

….then it develops new performance muscle and a will to succeed.

He refers to this as "getting aligned."

Aligning a business team is a process that involves recognizing the "as is" of its behavior, rebuilding its architecture and behavior, moving to high performance, and eventually making that higher level of performance the "as is" for the future.

According to Guttman, the alignment process is divided into two stages: diagnosis and agreement.

Phase 1: Making the Diagnosis

The impetus for building a successful business team comes from the leader's desire to solve a business problem.

This issue frequently causes the leader to consider the team's readiness to respond. What would the profile of a high-performing team be? What could it be able to achieve?

What objectives would it be able to achieve? What impediments would be removed? What issues would be addressed?

Next, regardless of how it is delivered, the leader's message that "we need to raise the performance standard" is unsettling.

The leader must connect with their team, assuage their anxieties, gain buy-in, and inspire enthusiasm for the new global order.

The alignment process requires a collaborative effort to succeed. Do the team members agree with the leader's assessment of the situation?

Do they feel the same feeling of urgency and see the same roadblocks to high performance?

The leader and team must collaborate to get an agreement on recognizing and acting on input. This is a critical learning opportunity for the leader. They must realize that taking such criticism, no matter how upsetting it may be, is necessary for growth.

Phase 2: Gaining Agreement

The players are aware of their personal strengths and limitations at this phase in the alignment process.

They are aware of the behavioral shifts they must make and the abilities they must develop. They know exactly which issues they need to address and with whom, and they've reached concrete agreements on how to proceed. They have taken ownership of their change.

Before the team members retrench, they must have a specific action plan for progress. According to Guttman, the strategy should contain actions that address the following issues:

  • Organization barriers: Have any hurdles to greater performance been discovered throughout the alignment process?
  • Skills: To address the talent shortages, schedule formal skill-development seminars.
  • Individual coaching: Assign personal coaches to athletes that want further assistance.
  • Team coaching: Create a strategy for coaching the entire team's interactions in the future.
  • Future business opportunities: To solve current business issues, identify new possibilities to adopt the high-performance paradigm.

To sum up, high-performing teams are not always high-performing teams.

The real world is full of surprises – a new team leader, new team members, restructuring, a strategic shift, a downturn in the economy, and so on. It's unreasonable to expect a team to be perfect all of the time.

When the leader or players sense that they are slipping backward, it is important to refocus. Great teams may rise again if they follow Guttman's principles: horizontal alignment, transparency, accountability, and self-sacrifice.

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