Time to shift focus from individuals and linear thinking to teams and systems thinking

A survey I conducted three years ago found that 80% of CEOs and HR directors thought that the emphasis of reward, recognition and development needed to shift substantially away from the individual employee to the team. One of the main reasons was that, in a VUCA world, collective learning, adaptation and action were far more important than individual. Another was the simple fact that people move on, taking their expertise with them – unless it is contained within the team.

 Another study I conducted last year with The Conference Board found that many HR directors believed that a high proportion of their executives were obsolete, for two reasons. One was that they wanted to revert to a command-and-control style of leadership that is inappropriate in a fats-moving environment. The other was that they couldn’t manage complexity – so they tried to control more and more, which led them and their teams to achieve less and less.

 A team is a complex, adaptive system, nested within other complex, adaptive systems. Teams today perform best when they understand their internal and external systems sufficiently to manage the complexity and uncertainty around them. The PERILL framework, described in the second edition of my book, “Coaching the team at work” is now helping teams all over the world to thrive through constant, intelligent adaptation. Critically, these teams are learning to coach themselves, boosting both performance now and capability to perform in the future.

©️David Clutterbuck 2024


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