Posted on Herrmann International’s website on 4/03/14

New Book Advocates Building a “Team of Leaders,” Recommends Using Whole Brain® Methods

Paul GIn the new book, “A Team of Leaders: Empowering Every Member to Take Ownership, Demonstrate Initiative, and Deliver Results,” co-authors Paul Gustavson and Stewart Liff reflect on some of the bleak employee satisfaction and engagement levels that persist in organizations today, while noting that companies continue to spend billions of dollars on training and development—the majority of which is devoted to supervisory development.

The statistics, they believe, point to the real issue in companies today: the way work is designed.

Gustavson, a Herrmann HBDI® Practitioner and recipient of the Herrmann International “Big Thinker” Award, explains that people want to use their entire brains, not just the small part they use to follow orders.

“As long as companies continue to use an outdated structure where the supervisor is the boss and everyone else does what they are told,” Gustavson says, “people will feel disengaged, supervisors will struggle and performance will suffer.”

He goes on to say that, “If you want to have a company where employees use all of their brain capacity and are involved, engaged and well trained—freeing the supervisor up to focus on higher-level work—then you need to create a team of leaders.”

The book, which was rated by Soundview Executive Book Summaries as one of the “Top 30 Business Books for 2014,” discusses the critical, often overlooked role of thinking preferences in employee engagement, energy and enthusiasm as well as how diverse thinking contributes to a team’s productivity and performance. Gustavson has used the Whole Brain® System for more than 30 years in his work as an organizational design consultant and the founder of Organization Planning & Design, Inc. (OPD), and believes it is an essential component for building high-performing teams.

“Herrmann International’s methods and tools, including the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®) individual and team profiles, are indispensible to this work,” he says. “More and more, teams compete on knowledge. The Whole Brain® System accelerates the pace in which a team can discover and diffuse its important knowledge, and it also fosters quicker and more effective team development.”

To learn more about the book and download a free chapter, visit A Team of Leaders.

Posted on AMACOM’s Book Blog on 3/20/14

How to Build A Team of Leaders

In the 2012 SHRM Survey on Employee Satisfaction and Engagement, only one out of every two employees reported that they were completely plugged in at work. Imagine how much productivity is being lost under these circumstances!

Meanwhile, ASTD reported that U.S. organizations spent over $156 billion on learning and development in 2011, with the largest percentage devoted to supervisory development.

The Root Cause

These statistics are clearly distressing and point to what we believe is the root cause: the way work is designed. Simply put, as long as organizations continue to use a structure where the supervisor is the boss and everyone else follows, people will feel devalued and disconnected, supervisors will struggle and performance will suffer.

That is because under this design, everything falls on the supervisor’s shoulders. The supervisor is under constant pressure to perform, makes all of the key decisions, interacts one-one with all of the employees, deals with the difficult people issues, etc. Meanwhile, the employees are expected to do what they are told, feel like they are merely cogs in the wheel, have little authority, autonomy or the chance to be creative, resulting in half feeling disengaged. It’s a classic “lose-lose” situation.

A Better Approach

There’s an old saying, “Organizations are perfectly designed to get the results that they get,” and we believe the above design has been yielding the results we just described. Fortunately, the corollary to this saying is, “If you want to change your results, you need to change your design.”

To have an organization where the employees are involved, engaged and well developed, allowing the supervisor to be freed up to focus on higher-level work, you need to create a team of leaders.

This design has been used in a variety of industries with a great deal of success at every level. It addresses many of the design flaws that the traditional structure has because there is no longer one “all-knowing” boss. Instead, everyone serves as a leader and is involved in all phases of the operation including planning, execution, training, scheduling, and even discipline. The official leader now serves as an advisor to the team and focuses his or her energy in other areas.

To read the entire article, go to:

ASTD Journal: posted on 2/14/14

The Power of Having a Team of Leaders

For 20 years, Stewart Liff rode the subway to work in New York City. Every day, while he was sitting in a subway car, there would be two people standing in front of him discussing their work situations. While the two people, job roles, and companies would differ each day, the conversations were generally the same.

They would constantly complain to each other about the way they were treated by their managers. They moaned and groaned about a lack of communication, something their boss said or did not say to them, disparate treatment, a perceived lack of opportunities, and so on. To a large extent, it didn’t seem to matter what they were complaining about, because the core issue always seemed to be their relationship with their boss.

Authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman write in their book, First Break All the Rules: What The Worlds’ Greatest Managers Do Differently, “that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. If employees don’t get along with their managers, don’t like them or don’t respect them, they will leave a company despite a high salary or great benefits. A bad manager is a big factor in employee performance. A good manager, no matter the salary, will inspire loyalty.”

Likewise, in a recent Engagement Study commissioned by Randstad, 53 percent of the employees felt that they could do a better job than their manager.

According to Leigh Branham, in The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, the results of 19,000 exit interviews conducted by the Saratoga Institute indicate that the top reasons employees cite when leaving a job is either disagreement with or disapproval of their immediate supervisor. A natural conclusion to draw from this and other highly consistent data is that the way supervisors deal with their employees is what most drives morale, retention and more importantly performance.

Joel Garfinkle, in his Talent Management article “Why Employees Leave Their Managers,” listed five of the most common mistakes managers make when dealing with their teams:

  • Not challenging employees
  • Not providing feedback
  • Avoiding dirty work
  • Being unapproachable
  • Believing authority flows from a title.

Others also have identified different mistakes to avoid, but most of them come down to the same basic conclusion: the best way approach to address this huge problem is to change the way that people manage. This has resulted in millions if not billions of dollars being spent on training and in many cases retraining supervisors around the world.

A different management model

Given the fact that the organizations have been struggling to address this issue for decades, without the success they crave, perhaps training is not the only answer. Maybe it is time to take a fresh approach to way that work is conducted. What if you could create a team of leaders where everyone in the team took a leadership role and there was no real need for a manager, other than in an advisory capacity?

To read this entire article, go to the following link: – article posted on 1/13/14:

A Team of Leaders

In OPM’s most recent Employee Viewpoint Survey[1], Federal employees ranked the following areas highest:

  • When needed, I am willing to put in extra work – 96.5%
  • I am constantly looking for ways to do a better job – 91.4%
  • The work I do is important – 91.2%
  • I am satisfied with Alternative Work Schedule (AWS) – 88.5%
  • I like the work I do – 83.8%

As you can see, the most positive scores generally centered on the work itself and the employees’ desire to do whatever it takes to improve things. The one exception here is the AWS program, which people appreciated for the flexibility it provided them.

Conversely, let’s take a look at the areas that Federal employees rated the lowest[2]:

  • In my work unit, differences in performance are recognized in a meaningful way -33.8%
  • Promotions in my work unit are based on merit – 33.5%
  • In my work unit, steps are taken to deal with a poor performer who cannot or will not improve – 29.4%
  • Pay raises depend on how well employees perform their jobs – 21.6%

Interestingly, all of these low ratings relate to something their supervisors did or did not do. In other words, from the viewpoint of Federal employees, they are most dissatisfied by the actions of their supervisors, meaning if they were to supervise more effectively, the employees theoretically would be more satisfied with their working conditions.

Overall, only 43% reported that their leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment and only 52% thought there was a results oriented culture.[3] All in all, these numbers are pretty staggering, as only 2 in 5 employees are truly motivated and only 1 out of 2 feel the government’s culture values performance. A natural conclusion to draw from these statistics is that the way government managers deal with their employees is what most drives morale and more importantly performance.

One approach to address this huge problem is to change the way that these officials manage. Of course, that would require an enormous amount of training and in many cases retraining the government’s hundreds of thousands of supervisors.

It would also require removing those supervisors who aren’t effective and are either unwilling or unable to develop the requisite skill sets. Interestingly, the government’s current supervisors do not believe that the government does an effective job in dealing with its problem supervisors.

For example, in a recent survey[4], OPM reported that Federal supervisors:

  • “…Would like to see the supervisory probationary period used more effectively to identify new supervisors who have not demonstrated they have the competencies for successful performance as supervisors;
  • Generally perceive that poor performing supervisors are ignored and receive little feedback on how to improve…”

Given the fact that the Federal government has been struggling to address this issue for decades, without much success, perhaps training is not the only answer. Maybe it is time to take a different approach. The new book, A Team of Leaders: Empowering Every Member to Take Ownership, Demonstrate Initiative, and Deliver Results, by Paul Gustavson and Stewart Liff, AMACOM Books, March 26, 2014,[5] offers a new and exciting way forward.

The idea behind the book is that organizations with the traditional top-down, supervisor-to-employee work structure, struggle with the inherent nature of this design. From the supervisor’s perspective, there is pressure to perform, frequent demands on their time, problem employees to address and unions to deal with. Moreover, they are required to make all of the key decisions and the weight of the world seemingly rests on their shoulders.

To read this entire article, go to the following link: