TRANSFORMING TEAMS

By Nicole Bianchi, SPHR and PCC, and Todd Darnold, PhD

If you think about it (and we have), the majority of work gets done by high-performing teams.

Even entrepreneurs who are sole proprietors most likely have vendors who help them run their business.

No one truly goes through this life alone – or shouldn’t anyway. Working on an exceptional team can be extremely rewarding. Productive, smart teammates can bring up your game, and together, you can accomplish more than each of you individually.

Highly impactful teams can defy math: one plus one can equal three – and then multiply that by the size of your group.

At big companies, teams are the standard. It’s true that traditional hierarchical company organizational charts are flattening – what used to be formalized structures (“straight lines” and “dotted lines” and other HR-speak) are now informally developing. People used to consider themselves a member of one team – the team they reported through. Now, people often consider themselves to be a member of multiple teams, which are usually project-based and not necessarily managed through the corporate structure.

Ultimately, truly successful company cultures will inspire a sense of teamwork on a macro level, and everyone will consider themselves to be a member of the company team.

Born to Lead?

It’s easy to see that an individual’s ability to work on a team is a highly prized skill. A question or two relating to teamwork should be on every manager’s interview list when recruiting new hires.

However, it’s unusual that a manager has the privilege of building a brand-new team. The more common scenario is a manager inherits an established team – especially in a project-based environment when new teams form every day.

Being able to develop, cultivate and continually motivate a high impact team is a rare (and highly valuable) skill. People aren’t necessarily born with this ability – and if they’ve spent their career reporting under similarly under-trained managers, the cycle of mediocrity continues.

The unfortunate reality is that if managers aren’t leading high impact teams, they might be detracting from the company’s bottom line rather than bolstering it.

Learning to Lead High Impact Teams

Both of us have backgrounds working in corporate environments, ranging from Fortune 10, Fortune 100, Fortune 500, small businesses and nonprofits. While one of us works in academia and one of us consults now, we live and breathe teamwork and leadership every day.

We saw a gap in leadership development offerings – most are centered around self-development, which is fundamental and extremely important. However, being able to lead a high impact team is equally crucial for the success of companies of all sizes.

At the same time, trends about how people want to learn were emerging in higher education. People are busy. Companies aren’t placing the same emphasis on graduate degrees.

Yet people still crave ongoing education and online resources, and while great, they have their limits. Nothing replaces in-person experiential learning.

All of these circumstances came together, and we developed the IMPACT program as a partnership between ICAN and Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.

The business community needs more opportunities to learn how to create, maintain and elevate high functioning teams – and IMPACT is creating strong cohorts of impressive leaders who are taking themselves, their teams and their companies to the next level.