"Do I have a billion-dollar team?"
Several times this year, chief executives from across the region have asked me this question. Reflecting on the reality that they are leading a billion-dollar business, it's an obvious query.
Each time, it opens into a conversation about the leader's role in building teamwork in their organisation. "Building the tribe", which is a regionalisation of the word team, is one of the seven emerging-markets leadership actions and needs to be a priority for every chief executive, managing director and business leader.
Central to building a senior management team, or for that matter any team, is participation. Of course, the leader needs to actively participate but not just in the leader team-member interaction as reflected in the prevalent spoke and hub model. The leader needs to emphasise member-integrated participation.
Interviews with senior management revealed the spoke and hub model as one of the primary team dysfunctions in the region. In a wheel, the spokes interact with one another only through the hub (figuratively, the leader) or the rim (meetings or assigned projects).
While this may make a wheel function properly, it is far from ideal for a team because when the majority of the interaction is between the leader and one team member, as opposed to among the team members, it causes team imbalance.
I'm raising and emphasising this point because many chief executives and managing directors see what appears to be participation when looking from their seat.
But through an outsider's eyes it becomes clear that the consistent participation is with the leader but it is not regular between the members. In the interviews, team members did confess they willingly came together when the need required but, immediately thereafter, they return to their silo - department or division.
So, instead of working as a team, they are only creating working groups. The repercussion is the business becomes a conglomeration of senior members who operate as "silo" first. The leader must take accountability and action to encourage cross-integration.
As in a tribe, a business leader needs to build direct collective participation between team members to resemble a billion-dollar team.
Role clarity and expectations are another characteristic of billion-dollar teams.
While member-integrated participation is critical, this does not mean being a team requires everyone to do everything together, to discuss everything and decide everything collectively. A team differs from a "pee-wee" football match where every kid runs after the ball forgetting about their positions. When building the tribe, the leader needs to take an active role in helping leaders and employees understand the dichotomy between performing clear team roles and emphasising member-integrated participation.
For leaders, the key is "building" the tribe - not just being a good tribe/team member. It requires connecting employees to one another and the organisation, achieving consensus and cohesion and promoting collaborative teamwork to achieve mutually beneficial goals.
A litmus test for determining if you have a billion-dollar "tribe" is, "Do your leaders and employees measure their success through collective, or personal, achievement?"
Tommy Weir is an authority on fast-growth and emerging-market leadership, an adviser and the author of The CEO Shift. He is the founder of the Emerging Markets Leadership Center