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Laying the Cultural Foundation for High-Performing Teams

Recognize This! – Building strong teams strengthens the individual as much as the unit.

Continuing on this week’s theme of company culture, Siemens AG President and CEO Peter Löscher was the featured interview in a recent New York Times “Corner Office” column.

Mr. Loscher speaks to three important lessons a wise leader will learn and apply in any global organization.

Trust and Teamwork

“But the underlying strength is the trust within the team — so that you actually are no longer just playing individually at your best, but you’re also trying to understand what you can do to make the team better.”

A classic approach to teamwork, it’s always important to remember the virtuous circle of a high-functioning, trusting team:

  1. A true team helps all members function at their individual best.
  2. When each team member is performing well, the team as a whole delivers greater results.

Diversity

“So the challenge was how to lead a diverse team, and this was always one of my interests. My forefathers are from Italy, my parents are Austrian, my wife is Spanish, two of our children are American and the third is Spanish, so I have the United Nations at home. You have to adapt to a diverse environment and appreciate the diversity. … Our company does business in 190 countries, so you need to have diversity of experience. I put a lot of value on this.”

Your people are all different. This is much more obvious in global organizations, but no less true if you have operations domestically only. Wise leaders seek to understand the different motivators, concerns and cultural expectations of all employees because they know doing so leads to more trusting teams.

Company Culture

“But I think you create this culture where we are together, and together we are going to make ourselves better, we are not satisfied, and we are straight about it. So you celebrate successes, you rally the teams, but at the same time you say, how can we make ourselves better in every little single step that we are taking?”

Celebrating success, encouraging others, and recognizing achievements is only half the relationship equation in high-functioning teams. As with any performance management, appropriate corrective feedback needs to also be given. However, building a relationship of trust and appreciation lays the groundwork for mutual respect that makes both giving and receiving constructive feedback easier and far more effective.

Do you work in a team? What is the dynamic – one of trust and helpfulness, or one of dysfunction and self-preservation?

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