Transformational Teams

By Lain Ehmann

For most managers, the day-to-day performance of their team is rarely a life-or-death situation. But for Todd Skinner, world-renown rock climber, motivational speaker and author of Beyond the Summit: Setting and Surpassing Extraordinary Business Goals (Portfolio, 2003), placing his life in the hands of his fellow team members is a common occurrence. According to Skinner, the key to developing great trust is undertaking great endeavors.

In Skinner’s experience the quickest way to mediocrity is to ask a group of great performers to undertake a moderate goal. “The moderate goal cannot make a great team,” he says. “If there’s room for dysfunction, you will have it.” On the other hand, Skinner’s been involved with teams of average performers who transcended their limits in pursuit of the extraordinary. “The best way to make an average team world-class is to give them a world-class mountain,” Skinner says. They will perform above and beyond their limits because they have to. “There’s no room for anything but transformation,” he notes.

The first step for sales managers looking to transform their teams is to set a bold vision: double market share, triple profit margins, blow open a new market. Then, says Skinner, you must transform this vision into a destination, which is a goal “along the way to your goal you can look back see how far you’ve come,” he explains. A time unit, such as getting through the quarter or the year, isn’t the radical and riveting goal that’s needed to convince people to buy into it, says Skinner. “A calendar year is way too long,” he adds. “The finish line must be in sight.”

Once the vision and destination are set every team member needs to assume a leadership role, says Skinner. “Anybody who makes decisions that affect the outcome of the mission is a leader,” he says. Trust enters the picture when each player recognizes that everyone else shares the same goal and is operating in the best interests of the team as a whole. “Trust comes naturally in an audacious endeavor,” Skinner explains.

For more information, please click on