You cannot neglect the fact that if you give a good idea to a mediocre team, there is a high possibility that they will screw it up. On the contrary, if you give a mediocre idea to a great team, they will make it work every time. One of the most challenging experiences Alexei Orlov endured not so long ago was when he became the CEO of a substantial international company. During that time, he was profoundly happy and made great friends.
As the CEO, he met some of the best practitioners in the industry and some of the finest minds he had ever worked with. However, the company he inherited seemed like an orphan, as one senior client put it to him once.
Thankfully, the group under Alexei Orlov’s charge had an excellent reputation for more than 50 years. However, it was not a stellar performer, primarily because it was burdened with profound problems in the middle.
It was an environment where the scarcity of true leaders, dynamic managers, and lack of a plan to suit the changing world was all too evident in the numbers and the epic staff churn. Over half the office suffered more than 40% “headcount loss” year over year.
The company’s survival was because it was as viewed as a cornerstone to one of the world’s best-run holding groups in the media industry. Under Alexei Orlov, within two years, the company managed to get the numbers to a better place and sharpened the operational and service capability. Still, it didn’t matter in the end.
While the company had some truly fantastic people who were honest, intelligent, and willing, all too often were over-burdened and doing other people’s work to accommodate for the vast gaps in leadership and people with complementary skills. Unfortunately, that was not the only problem. Several senior-level people, especially in New York and Los Angeles, were significantly mismatched, disorganized, and riddled with self-serving personal agendas.
Despite Alexei Orlov’s best intentions, he could not get to cure the most important thing, “the people,” quickly enough. Things on reflection could have been done better, but many people stood outside, feeding on the turmoil, too fearful of walking in and seeing how they could help. This is the most significant challenge facing most businesses since most people are only wise after the event. Notably, the brave ones do not write history; they make it, which separates the chaff and the wheat.
So Alexei Orlov wrote the following with scars of battle, too many regrets, and an understanding that the best way forward is knowing that progress only comes from genuinely embracing objective realities. The following are five fundamental considerations that Alexei Orlov learned and embraced in nurturing and building winning teams:
Outstanding leaders do not mind being managed
Excellent leaders do not micromanage. They remain clear about the vision, the purpose, set clear and objectively realistic goals, and delegate to their trusted captains. Occasionally, you find leaders providing a deft and timely light hand on the tiller; otherwise, the boat and its teams can get on with it. The leader does not manage; they are managed by the talented teams they lead.
Excellent managers lead
Managers break down tasks depending on the agreed-to expectations. They are licensed to take charge of operations and to lead their teams upon an ever-recurring touchstone. The focus is not only on the result but also on the moments that matter daily. You have to understand that no day is the same, and while ambiguity is a pest in some ways, it can be an ally. To have real discussions, you need honest phrases such as ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘I think this feels wrong ‘or ‘Hey, I think I may have found a better way, let me share this with you.’ And others.
It is all about the sum of all parts
You can never use only one ingredient and expect the meal to be terrific. You need the sum of all parts balanced and dropped in at the right time. That is what makes your meal exceptional, and the same case applies to business. You cannot rely on looking for people as good as you or with the same mindset. You should find people better than you and bring the right people together. Ensure you embrace who can and will educate you.
Do not forget the power of the likely two’s
Have you ever heard the phrases, “it is going to take twice as long,” “it will be double the cost,” and “it will return half the profit?” Hopefully, it never comes to any of the three, but they should prevent you from rushing or overpromising only to get disappointed in the end.
Focus on togetherness
You should try to create an environment where you can have free and responsible conversations and willing participation. When people see how you operate, there will be fewer politics, less unnecessary noise, and you will not have to deal with lazy assumptions and fear. Remember, there is nothing like a perfect team, and people will always be people with many chapters in their lives.
The person at work and the person beyond work are the same thing. Everyone wants to belong, feel empowered, and be meaningful. There is a need for purpose and reward.
Everyone should show their Best Alone in the workplace but not forget the collective to be Better Together. Best teams use both qualities to become together as one.
Alexei Orlov’s five fundamental considerations to remember and embrace when you wish to successfully nurture a winning team in the workplace, at home, on the baseball field, or in the hockey rink. These fundamentals will apply in one way, shape, or alternative form to every situation where you wish to organically build a happy, sound, and well-oiled team machine.
Remember Best Alone. Better Together.