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HOW TO: building the Perfect Leadership Team

Updated: Feb 4, 2022

- with smart screening and recruiting.

Launching a complex project or program or managing an organisational transformation of significant size with considerable risks involved? Typical examples would be post merger integration programs, the implementation of a new IT landscape or massive changes in a company´s strategic direction. To cope with this challenge, you want to arrange a team to lead the organization through this situation as best as possible. On a side note, if your project is of a smaller size or covers a smaller scope, the approach listed below will be beneficial for you just as much.

The Challenges in more Detail

Let´s take one concrete example of a project:

let´s assume a scenario where a larger logistics service provider acquires a smaller one (half the size of the acquirer). The two companies will have to be merged into one new, consolidated enterprise.

So what are the challenges that a post merger integration team (PMI-team) will face?

Unless there is a simple approach like „the larger one swallows the smaller one“ the team will need to assess and compare structures, processes, tools, infrastructure, culture, values and - last but not least - people in all different areas and functions of the two merging companies.

The PMI team will need to judge what to keep, what to drop and what to replace by something totally new. The PMI team will also need to conduct proper risk assessments, take decisions in different subject matter areas and run such a change program over a period of several years.

What Qualities should the Perfect Team have?

For the scenario outlined above the following characteristics would be required:

  • broad range of subject matter expertise in all relevant functions of the enterprise

  • adequate risk management skills and related risk propensity of the team members

  • lateral thinking

  • openness for innovation and openness to leave the beaten tracks of the past

  • stamina for a multi year journey

  • attention to detail where appropriate and conscientiousness in the evaluation of concepts

  • integrity

  • compliance with corporate culture and corporate values

This list covers the most important aspects of the team characteristics but is not necessarily exhaustive.

It is obvious, that the team characteristics are the combination of the individual traits of the team members. That's why the perfect team is a blend of different roles taken up by individuals, that bring along the required mindsets and characteristics.

Existing Approaches to define Team Roles and to determine the related Personality Traits

The two most renowned approaches are the „Belbin Team Roles“[1] and the „Myers & Briggs 16 Personalities“[2] that define team roles and the required characteristics of the incumbent of the role.

It is recommendable to familiarize yourself with these concepts in order to obtain a holistic view of the role types and their contribution to build a perfect PMI team.[3]

These role classifications have quite successfully been used in the past.

More specifically, if you want to build the perfect team, you need to decide which roles you really require in your project and to what extent. Such evaluation is extremely helpful and it provides you a lot more clarity and strengthens your view on how the project will be run and conducted.

Finding the right Individuals for the Team Roles

Now that the roles are clear, it is vital to find the best individuals to assume these roles.

This is the crucial step.

Existing approaches to identify individuals that best fit to a given role (Belbin and Myers & Briggs as well as practically all other role tests) use self declarative questionnaires to evaluate what role type is closest to an individuals self assessment.

But we all know, that a person's self perception may be quite different from the respective outside perception or even from reality and therefore such questionnaire based tests may deliver questionable results.

Now - how can this be improved?

The best thing would be to observe if a team member acts or decides in a concrete (conflicting) situation as it would be expected according to the role assigned.

For example if a new software was implemented lately and it still runs a bit „bumpy“, would the individual try to conscientiously look for errors and clean them up as expected for the role of a Completer Finisher?

So the solution may be described by „The proof of the role is in the acting and deciding“[4].

The next Level of Role Matching: Online Case Studies and Decision Making Monitoring

Monitoring the decision making progress of a team member in a realistic conflicting scenario give a a perfect indication of the extent to which the team member fulfils the role expectations.

Does the team member focus on the relevant information for the decision?

Is he or she as conscientious as expected?

Is he or she eager to coordinate and align ideas with other team members?

Is there enough focus on risk mitigation?

These questions can be answered with the help of smart online case studies and online decision making assessments. The respective methodological concept has been developed primarily for academic research over the last 15 years and has only recently been adapted for application in more practical standard business scenarios.

From what was said so far it is obvious, that such a case study approach is more complex than traditional questionnaire tests but it delivers deeper role matching insights, can easily be customized to different business scenarios and better prevents you from erroneous staffing decisions.

It is optimally suited to screen existing teams and to recruit new members into a team.

More details desired?

If you want to learn more about the concept and how it may be applied in your specific environment feel free to contact me!

Dr. Werner Sohn

CEO and Founder of cassudy

[1] see „Team Roles at Work“, R. Merdedith Belbin, 2010, Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, London and New York or alternatively [2] see or alternatively [3] The nine prototype Belbin Roles are named Resource Investigator, Teamworker, Co-ordinator, Plant, Monitor Evaluator, Specialist, Shaper, Implementor and Completer Finisher. All roles come along with specific strength and weaknesses and their contribution to the team success can be guessed from the role names already

[4] The proverb „The proof of the pudding is in the eating“ is the more general version but would mean the same thing in this business context

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