Terrific Teaming Versus Great Teamwork

Accountability Organizational leadership Teamwork


Key Point: Powerful and effective TEAMING is an emerging necessity for adaptive results and organization sustainability. TEAMING has evolved from historical notions attributed to teams and teamwork.  Of course, teamwork has and will always be important. However, TEAMING versus great teamwork is both subtly yet profoundly different.

This coming week, I am privileged to have been invited to speak at the Opportunity South Conference & Business Expo 2017 in Lethbridge, Alberta. I love the southern part of our great province for many reasons. Perhaps the biggest is the sense of true community that exists. I am going to share my thoughts about teaming with these passionate community leaders. And I’m going to kick things off with a few core beliefs about the evolving thinking on teaming; one being represented by a quote from Amy Edmondson, the author of “Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in Knowledge Economy.” “TEAMING… IS A DYNAMIC ACTIVITY, NOT A BOUNDED, STATIC ENTITY.” So what is the underlying importance and uniqueness of this statement? Allow me to try and answer with the following perspective.

These are key beliefs about teaming versus teamwork. Terrific Teaming is:

  • A verb.
  • Dynamic & adaptive.
  • Vital for navigating exponential disruption.
  • Spawned and sustained by terrific culture and leadership.

In this blog, I’m going to highlight the characteristics of Terrific Teaming and hopefully provoke or inspire you to think differently and perhaps more comprehensively than you historically have. The characteristics of terrific teaming include the following:

  • Led by leaders who are “gardeners.”
  • Contribution rules; rank and stature indistinguishable in action.
  • Clear on purpose and priorities.
  • Have oneness and high adaptability quotient.
  • Know how to both collaborate and fight well.
  • Thrive off of self accountability, respect, trust, and abundance.
  • Transparent… Everyone needs to see the holistic system.
  • High capability and capacity for compassion and inclusivity.
  • Messy, authentic, awesome organisms more than well oiled machines.
  • Hate sameness… Look to constantly innovate and disrupt.
  • GSD (Get S$!@ Done).
  • Celebrate wins… Have fun.
  • Detest losing; constructive chip on their shoulder.
  • Relentless forward moving and sustainability.
  • Form, expand, contract, disband as hives.
  • Effective networks of networks.

Personal Leadership (Character) Moves:

  1. Assess teams you are part of. How would you evaluate these teams relative to the characteristics of Terrific Teaming?
  2. What actions would you take to address the gaps?
  3. To what extent does your culture and leadership support the spawning and evolution of Terrific Teaming?

Terrific Teaming in The Triangle


One Millennial View: I think this is outstanding. You don’t have to be Terrific Teaming or experience leadership for long to understand and appreciate the significance of it. My favorite point above is “hate sameness… Look to constantly innovate or disrupt.” The whole “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” thing doesn’t seem to apply to good leadership, and if our teams aren’t innovating or disrupting then we have to ask why a pitfall of complacency is comfortable. It likely won’t be for very long. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

New Science Behind Smarter Teams 

Management Respect Teamwork


Key Point: “A new science of effective teamwork is vital not only because teams do so many important things in society, but also because so many teams operate over long periods of time, confronting an ever-widening array of tasks and problems that may be much different from the ones they were initially convened to solve. General intelligence, whether in individuals or teams, is especially crucial for explaining who will do best in novel situations or ones that require learning and adaptation to changing circumstances.” That’s the summary of important work underway by scientists trying to understand why and how some teams work smarter than others. 

As most of my readers know, I’ve been stressing the renewed importance of advanced teamwork impacting innovation/adaptability, and have been gathering this thinking under the umbrella of a reenergized movement I refer to as “Peer-To-Peer Power.” That’s why the insights outlined by these researchers are important for leaders to consider when making teams smarter. Contemplate two studies with practical applications on why some teams have a collective higher IQ and get better results.

One study highlights the following as differentiators:

First, their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group.

Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.

Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Indeed, it appeared that it was not diversity (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team’s intelligence, but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at mindreading than men.”

Another study looked at teams working online and off, and again some teams consistently worked smarter than others. The researchers’ conclusions:

More surprisingly, the most important ingredients for a smart team remained constant regardless of its mode of interaction: Members who communicated a lot, participated equally and possessed good emotion-reading skills.

This last finding was another surprise. Emotion-reading mattered just as much for the online teams whose members could not see one another as for the teams that worked face to face. What makes teams smart must be not just the ability to read facial expressions, but a more general ability, known as Theory of Mind to consider and keep track of what other people feel, know and believe.

Character Moves:

  1. We need to challenge ourselves to discover why some teams work smarter than others. Think of the number of teams in your organization. How much conscious time is given to investing in their true effectiveness? A good agenda and process is no longer sufficient for effective teamwork. We need to put intentionality behind full participation, having more women in the discussion and perhaps most importantly, what the researchers refer to as “Theory of Mind:” The ability to track what other people feel, know and believe. 
  2. Let’s explore the latest work/advancement in emotion reading skills. By the way, one cannot effectively read emotions without full attention and presence in team environments. This is just as, or perhaps even more important in on-line team peer-work versus face-to-face. 

In the end, smarter teams need to get smarter results.

Smarter teams in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I think being able to “read a room” is as important of an IQ/EQ skill as many book-learned qualifications. I hope many Millennials might have an edge up on this. It’s a puzzle we should always be working on. Figuring out what our teammates feel, know and believe is crucial and the way piece together the true character by your side. Ironically, “reading a room” is unfortunately tougher than learning some things you can just read in a book.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Just Friggin’ Dance

Abundance Organizational culture Teamwork


Key Point: I think one of the benchmarks of great company culture is when an entire group of people regardless of connection, age, tenure, gender, affiliation, etc. has the ability to literally dance with each other. I have been part of at least five great cultures in my career, and that has been one key common component – We have loved to dance in each other’s company. I’m actually talking about flat out arms flailing, spinning, twirling, unabashed dancing. Often, singing at the top of our lungs too.

I’m hardly a great dancer. However, there is something magical, even surreal, when a team puts on the tunes (perhaps too loudly) and just lets loose on the dance floor. I think I like it so much because we have to be vulnerable. We get to unravel a little, and that puts us on a level playing field. How glorious it is. 

I don’t sponsor any event that doesn’t involve music. It moves us, and because we are verbs, I think it feeds us like oxygen. All of us have something inside us that makes us want to move and music/dancing sets us free. I put no judgment on the folks sitting on the sidelines. Sometimes part of enjoying the dance is in the people watching. That is adding to the experience too. We all embrace dance in different ways. 

My last team was notoriously badass for dancing. Our annual conference post-dinner dance is legendary. I loved heading to my hotel room, mopping the sweat off my head after a couple of hours of just flat out grooving. There is something cathartic about the freedom, autonomy, trust, and self-confidence that is unleashed through dance. 

I’m writing about this because corporate life must involve huge amounts of fun. And when leaders let go and show their true, goofy, authentic self, then good things happen. Freeing ourselves sets others in the culture free. I know sometimes when I’m lost in my total “dance,” the music pulsating through me, I look like a “fool.” Maybe people are laughing at me? I do NOT care! The freedom… The authenticity… The movement… My letting go in pure, sweet joy, is most important!

Character Moves:

  1. Just close your eyes and dance… Play loud music every chance you get. Let go and have fun. Be real. 
  2. Consciously make music part of everything. It makes a difference. More importantly, have the courage to get up and dance your ass off. Like I always say, you’re worth it! 

Dancing in the Triangle,


P.S. If you think I’m exaggerating, ask my last team. I’m betting testimonials appear. They make me happy!!

One Millennial View: For my money, there’s one true inspiration for the perfect way to get after a dance floor… (Other than Dad, of course…) Here it is:

If anyone finds a “Dan Aykroyd School of Dance,” let me know.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Encouraged, Free and Agile

Organizational culture Respect Teamwork


Key Point: “What the people in our lives want is to be treated like people: Encouraged, free, and agile. That’s how you lead.” That’s the closing point from a great article published in Mashable by Aaron Orendorff, the founder of iconiContent and a regular contributor at Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, Fast Company, Business Insider and more. 

Recently, I sparked much reader interest in a blog referring to my eight ingredients in building an ever-evolving great culture. Inside those ingredients you will find the same elements of encouragement, freedom and agility. Orendorff refers to a couple of studies to support his findings. 

“When Stanford business professors James Baron and Michael Hannan concluded their expansive eight-year study of over 200 tech startups, one finding emerged… They discovered that the ‘commitment’ model — which relied on ‘emotional or familial ties of employees to the organization, selection based on cultural fit, and peer-group control’ — outperformed its counterparts on all fronts… In fact, not a single of the commitment organizations they studied failed.

Leaders can build commitment through a host of methods, but the most uncomplicated answer lies in one we often overlook — encouragement.” (You will note in my last Sandberg blogEncouragement leads to confidence).

“Likewise, Duke behavioral economists Dan Ariely validated this finding through a series of experiments at Intel. Compliments — nothing more than a simple ‘Well done’” from the boss — increased productivity 34.7 percent more than monetary bonuses over a one week period.”

People often wonder why I feel so strongly about our recognition program, where 5,000 team members exchange 30,000 recognitions per month. It is a platform of peer-to-peer encouragement. It’s also why I send out DWDs! (Darn Well Dones).

Orendorff notes in his Mashable blog: “Daniel Pink — in both his TEDTalk and book-length treatment — lays out the comprehensive benefits of autonomy: ‘According to a cluster of recent behavioral science studies, autonomous motivation promotes greater conceptual understanding, enhanced persistence, higher productivity, less burnout, and greater levels of psychological well-being.’”

The Orendorff trifecta: “Essentially, agile leadership blends commitment — namely, collaboration and relational ties — with autonomy — flexibility and decentralized decision-making. Agile leaders entrust responsibility to their teams knowing that humans naturally reciprocate that trust with passionate, long-term commitment… The quickest way to go agile, however, comes from the last phrase of [Charles] Duhigg’s definition: ‘pushing decision making to whoever was closest to a problem.’” 

Character Moves:

  1. After all the research, people just want to be treated as PEOPLE! Encourage them! Give them the freedom to unleash their contribution and support agility by helping people make decisions closest to the problem. It’s that simple and that hard!

Encouraged, Free and Agile in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: Millennials get some scruff about always wanting “trophies for participation,” and special recognition for achievements. Nah. Not the best ones. We understand we don’t need cannons to fire in celebration every time we do our jobs, but we can sniff out when higher ups refuse to give a nod of appreciation. Consider something like a “well done” just polite… No more, no less, but enough to at least let us know we’re encouraged, free and agile.

– Garrett

Drinking Out of the Cup!

Abundance Growth mindset Teamwork


Key Point: Winning as a team is intoxicating. Why? Because teams WIN as the playbook or “system” connects all members and departments in an exponentially better way. Great teams, of course, do include superb individual contributions. It’s clear some people have larger roles and play bigger parts in the journey. However, in superb team-based organizations, no “one,” or select few can win on their own. To really be victorious, every part of the system contributes. Typically, one person is selected to pick up the “prize,” yet in truly great organizations, everyone is recognized for the vital roles they play. 

I love hockey, and the metaphor attached to winning the National Hockey League’s ultimate championship, the Stanley Cup. When the winning team prevails, the Cup is hoisted up over the head of EACH player and eventually every other person professionally attached to the organization. This includes the sales people, ticket folks, operations, marketing, accounting, receptionists, ushers, and everyone else who makes the entire system work. And of course, tradition involves drinking some celebratory bubbly beverage out of that very trophy. Winning teams celebrate hard too. 

This week, our company was recognized by Great Place to Work as the No. 2 company in all of Canada. This is quite remarkable for a 5,000 person, boutique financial institution dedicated to serving the province of Alberta. Other outside sources rate us as one of the best companies in North America. We have much to do to get EVEN BETTER. In fact, we won’t be satisfied until we are continuously recognized as the best company in the world. While we aspire to even higher levels, we are a WINNING organization. And just like Stanley Cup champs, it takes the entire system working in full harmony to get the W. It also takes years and intentional development of EVERY part of the institution to achieve sustainable momentum as a whole. It is never just one person, one department, one product or “one” of anything. That’s what differentiates winning teams from the others. I am always amused when other organizations try to copy one or two things. It is never that simple. Winning takes every thing, every person, every detail, every nuance meshed into exceptional performance driven by a higher purpose.

I want to recognize every winning person and process at ATB and invite all to hoist the cup high. We achieve our greatness together. This includes all the people who have built our culture over the past 80 years, and the ones that will continue the legacy after our current leadership is gone. I particularly want to note the people who do all the heavy lifting behind the scenes; often unnoticed. You know who you are. Thank you. 

Character Moves:

  1. Determine where you are in building or being part of a championship team. It takes a methodical and relentless approach to make every part of the system better at the same time. This strategy takes courage and will be criticized by people who think it’s too hard, too much, too chaotic, too ambitious, and/or too big. They will fight to keep you perpetually mediocre. I detest this attitude. Don’t be one of those folks!
  1. Having a winning mindset includes a growth mindset. When you embrace this perspective, you can’t stand just being “good enough.” You hate sameness. You are abundant in spirit and pull/push the entire system forward. You are a winner. I want to work with YOU. 
  1. I apply an eight point system/framework as a guide to team/organization greatness. It is simple to describe, and very hard to execute on. Send me an email to lgrubis@gmail.com and I’d be happy to share it with you. I challenge you to execute on it and unseat us as the best company to work for in the universe. The more winning teams, the better for all. 

No. 1 in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: First and foremost, congratulations to everyone at ATB! As Millennials, we have to imagine ourselves as the rookies, the newly drafted… For most of us, we probably aren’t “first rounder” star players either. But, if we sit back and rely on the one or two all stars to get it all done for us, then we’ll never be able to contribute to that championship because it’ll never be won. And we certainly won’t deserve to hoist the Cup over our heads. Want that win just as much as everyone better than you.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

‘Collabatrust’ & Speed!

Accountability Collaboration Teamwork


Key Point: I promised you ongoing insights regarding how we need to reimagine leadership based on the accelerants and connective tissue driven by exponential technology. My previous blog underscored three big thoughts. So here is another important premise:

Collaboration moves at the speed of trust! In fact, Dov Seidman (Harvard lawyer, CEO of LRN) argues, “trust is the only legal performance-enhancing drug.” People who do not trust each other need all kinds of rules, regulations, contracts, etc. to create a workable platform. On the other hand, when trust in a culture is high, people spend little or no time questioning another’s intent. They start from the premise that people are working for the greater good and purpose (another reminder why having a clear and compelling purpose matters so much). So if accelerants and connectivity is transforming everything, legacy “trust verification systems” rules, inspection, regulations, etc. in organizations must be disrupted too.

If we want to introduce a social platform and tools to drive greater collaboration, we better make sure high levels of trust underscore the ability of people to super collaborate. And the key to building trust is executing what we commit to, guided by very clear and understood values! Both big and little things matter. For example, if a leadership declares a “people first” strategy, the big decisions related to how people are at the front of decisions made establish the foundation of trust. It’s the hundreds of little things, often referred to as “moments of truth,” every day, which confirms trust.

Character Moves:

  1. Evaluate how much you work and live in an environment of total trust.
  2. In a world that is relying more and more on harnessing speed for advantage, what are you doing to create more trust?

“Collabatrust” in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: John Resig of theChive (an extremely successful entertainment site/charity/e-commerce/media outlet), says he only hires people he would like to get a beer with. He prefers that trait over credentials. And he also encourages his team to invite a new employee out each night of the week after they’re welcomed on the team. He says if after the first month, you’re no longer getting invited out, then you’ve done something wrong and you’re probably not a good fit. That method may not work for all companies, but trust me when I say that I can see how that really works for them.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis