As you can see from my visual CV, I spent more than two decades serving clients in an international public accounting firm. From the very first day I joined this firm as a fledgling auditor, all of my efforts were carried out as a part of a team. Every assignment was with a team . . . in most cases a different group of individuals. Although I did not fully appreciate it at the time, I was being honed by experts in teamwork . . . initially as a member of the teams I served on and then as a team leader and eventually as a sponsor of teams.
These teams were dedicated to delivering outstanding client service while providing independent opinions on financial statements and professional advice on a wide range of topics including management practices, internal control systems, etc.
Each assignment was carefully defined with a clear understanding of the form and nature of the deliverables that would result from our work. We estimated the scope of the effort required, planned the nature and timing of our work, defined the specific actions the team needed to carry out, and set about managing the execution of those action plans.
As a team leader you became an expert in estimating the efforts required, budgeting time for each task, assessing a team member’s ability to complete the tasks on time, and mentoring team members to prepare them to take over your role in future teams.
Those of us who stayed with the firm soon realized that our path to partnership rested squarely on our ability to develop our successors in the work we were doing . . . or else you were destined to get ‘stuck’ as a team member or junior team leader.
Every assignment was different. And many changed as the results of our audit work became clear and called for additional investigation or exploration of new avenues to get satisfied we fully understood the matters we were reporting on. Our assignments were indeed ‘dynamic’ and demanded sharp focus, commitment and accountability to complete our work in a timely fashion.
It was only after I left public accounting to join and lead other organizations that I came to understand the power of the teamwork culture I had been schooled in by the many team leaders and mentors that engaged me in those early days of my career. What I came to believe while in public accounting was that the culture of most organizations was based on the type of teamwork I had experienced. I soon learned that was not the case.
As I experienced new attitudes and cultures, it became clear to me that many of my new colleagues had never experienced true teamwork in a business setting . . . . clearly apparent from their inability to engage with a team to accomplish even the most limited of assignments . . . . and most dramatically apparent when their approach to team leadership was totally dysfunctional in spite of their ‘manager’ or ‘executive’ title.
I became frustrated as I worked with more and more individuals who, although they held ‘leadership’ positions, were unable to assemble and lead teams to carry out need assignments. I began to explore how to provide these individuals with a framework of factors they needed to consider as they joined teams as team members or accepted the role of leader.
I must admit that my basic style is that of a teacher. I like to share what I have learned and experienced to help those I work with do better than I did when I was in their role. I have always enjoyed mentoring others in their development of skills and careers. And I like to express myself through charts that depict concepts and process flows.
As I struggled with helping those of my team members develop their team leadership skills, I found that I began to document the many lessons that I had learned during my career in public accounting . . . . and afterwards in several executive leadership roles. I created charts and graphs, wrote short guidance documents and had many one on one mentoring sessions with team members.
About ten years ago I asked myself, in one of those moments of self examination, what I really wanted to do when I grew up. As you can see from my CV, I have worked with a large number of organizations in a variety of roles. But my heart has always been in role of advisor and mentor. I made the decision to focus my efforts on taking my past experiences and continue to research and study management practices to build the frameworks I believe would help team members, team leaders and team sponsors create and sustain the culture of dynamic teamwork that is required in today’s economic world.
Some of my associates have suggested that I needed to take the research and work I have done and write a book. Others have suggested that I offer seminars on leadership and teamwork. Both are good advice but where does one start?
I am starting with this blog. My goal is to post thoughts about leadership and teamwork, invite feedback, engage in discussions, and get to know a lot of people far smarter than I am in developing powerful teams. And sharing this flow of ideas with those who choose to follow the process, hopefully to help each reader be a better team member, leader, sponsor and person.
The format and structure of the blog will evolve as we get our thoughts and ideas recorded here and receive the feedback we expect will come as we are challenged to expand our thoughts, change our minds and explore other avenues of inquiry.
I admit I am a novice blogger but I hope to learn as we go how to be effective in using this medium to communicate, teach and guide. Your comments and support are indeed an important part of this process.