Team Management Systems


By Dick McCann
Copyright © Team Management Systems. All rights reserved.

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I read with interest the results of a recent survey carried out on middle and senior managers from 100 of Australia's top 50 organizations. Some 90% agreed that leadership was vital for success but only 20% said that their organization was developing leadership capability. More than 80% said that they did not trust their leaders. It made me wonder why!

Leadership is about having a vision and communicating that vision to every employee. But how often is it done well?


Martin Seligman in his book Learned Optimism reports on the level of optimism shown by USA presidential candidates between the years 1900-1984. American voters chose the more optimistic-sounding candidate in eighteen out of twenty-two elections. People seem to want a vision of hope and opportunity, and respond well to those messages.

The Vision

However the vision needs to be well balanced between focusing on the opportunities and identifying potential problems. Leaders who focus on unattainable goals often demonstrate a form of naive optimism that everything will turn out alright in the end. Employees soon become disgruntled when they realize that the rhetoric is far from the reality. On the other hand, leaders who highlight too many difficulties will foster negativity and that can lead to apathy, pessimism and even corporate depression. It seems that leadership success is all about treading the fine line between seeing the opportunities and identifying the problems.

Leadership Success Factors

Successful leaders have work preferences from all parts of the Team Management Wheel. The major role preference distribution of a worldwide sample of 6,710 Managing Directors/CEOs is presented below. It should be noted that titles of major role preferences are not reproduced for clarity reasons and that rounding errors may occur.

Major role preference distribution for worldwide functional area sample: Managing Director/CEO (n=6,710)

Major role preference distribution for worldwide functional area sample: Managing Director/CEO

The above analysis from our worldwide database shows that the sector with the highest percentage of CEOs and Managing Directors is Thruster-Organizer with 27%, followed by Assessor-Developer at 25%. The lowest is the Upholder-Maintainer and Reporter-Adviser sectors with 2% each.

One of the problems with leaders is that they don't always realize how they are perceived by their employees. I guess this is a human failing, cleverly captured by the Scottish poet Robbie Burns when he wrote, "Oh wad some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us." There are many leaders wandering around with delusions of perfection. In many cases it is the story of the emperor's new clothes; no-one is game enough to give them verbal feedback.

Multi-Rater Instruments

This is where multi-rater feedback assessments are of great value. They give leaders a chance to review how well they are perceived by the people who matter - their employees. It can help them understand where the problems are and why there may be a lack of trust. Many of our Network Members use the Linking Skills Profiles to help leaders understand how others see them and many organizations use this instrument as the basis for their leadership programs. Eight to ten people will rate the participants on their Linking Skills and this data is compared with the managers' own view of themselves. The gaps then become part of the leadership development plan. Often a new assessment is done 6-months later to record improvements.

Copyright © Team Management Systems. All rights reserved.

With a background in science, engineering, finance and organizational behavior, Dick McCann has consulted widely for organizations such as BP, Hewlett Packard and Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank. He is coauthor of Team Management: Practical New Approaches with Charles Margerison; author of How to Influence Others at Work, the TMS E-Book Series and The Workplace Wizard: The Definitive Guide to Working with Others; and coauthor with Jan Stewart of Aesop's Management Fables and The Half-Empty Chalice. Dick is coauthor and developer of the Team Management Systems concepts and products and also author of the QO2™ Profile, Window on Work Values Profile and the Strategic Team Development Profile. Involved in TMS operations worldwide for over 25 years, Dick is now Managing Director of TMS Australia and a Director of TMS Development International.

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