MANAGEMENT TEAMS INTERNATIONAL
For too many years the search for successful management has been seen almost exclusively as a search for the right individual. Corporations have been pre-occupied with the qualifications, experience and achievement of individuals. Yet all of us know in our hearts that the ideal individual for a given job cannot be found. The ideal individual cannot be found because the ideal individual cannot exist.
Any attempt to list the qualities of a good manager demonstrates why such a person cannot exist: far too many of the qualities are mutually exclusive. He or she must be highly intelligent and yet not too clever; highly forceful and yet sensitive to people's feelings; dynamic and yet patient; a fluent communicator and a good listener; decisive and yet reflective; and so on. And if you do find this jewel among managers, this paragon of mutually incompatible characteristics, what will you do when he or she steps under a bus, or goes to live abroad for the sake of the family's health, or leaves to take up a better job with your principal competitor?
But if no individual can combine all these qualities, a team of individuals certainly can - and often does; moreover the whole team is unlikely to step under a bus simultaneously. This is why it is not the individual but the team that is the instrument of sustained and enduring success in management. A team can renew and regenerate itself by new recruitment as individual team members leave or retire, and it can find within itself all those conflicting characteristics that cannot be united in any single individual. It can build up a store of shared and collectively owned experience, information and judgement that can be passed on as seniors depart and juniors arrive. And it can be in 10 places at once.
Many of us must have perceived something of the truth about teams from our own experience. We know how often someone who has been highly successful within a team becomes a great disappointment when moved out of it. We have seen effective teams destroyed by the promotion of individuals, without anyone ever considering the alternative of promoting the whole team, or enlarging its scope and responsibility. And we have also seen teams produce a quality of work far higher than the sum of what the separate individuals could have produced on their own.
The corollary is that, while not ignoring or neglecting
the individual, we should devote far more thought to teams: to their selection,
development and training; to their qualifications, experience and achievements;
and above all to their psychology, motivation, composition and behaviour.