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January 19, 2005

Excerpts: Contagious Success - Part V

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 8:42 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

4. Its the Environment, Not the Leader
Our research demonstrates that the workgroup environment, not the leader, is the most important factor in driving high performance. This is true across industries and geographies. There is no single personality or style that defines an effective leader. What these leaders have in common is the ability to create an environment that values people (treating smart people as if they are smart), optimizes critical thinking (minimizing emotional responses by matching words and actions), and seizes opportunities (creating learning environments that turn challenges into opportunities). They create environments where people want to go to work every day.
Too often, high performance is dependent on a leader who intuitively understands the need for this environment. This leaves high performance to chance. The problem is that when the leader leaves, the group loses its ability to achieve peak performance. Companies can stop dependence on the leader by making the group responsible for creating a high-performance environment.
One way to do this is to conduct a 360-degree feedback process to evaluate the environment, gathering input from the groups leader, members, and customers, as well as other workgroups with whom it interacts. The group should discuss what it can start, continue, or stop doing to drive business results and make the workgroup something people really want to be a part of.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.