In the bestselling tradition of Who Moved My Cheese? and The One Minute Manager, this smart little book, written as a business parable, tells the story of a young man who is sent from the corporate ladder to the football field to learn a lesson in team playing from one person who knows how to win - a college football coach.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
Dick Lyles, Ph.D., is President and Chief Operating Officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies. He has been an active speaker and management consultant with an international clientele for more than twenty years. His clients have included numerous Fortune 500 companies, among them Exxon and Hughes Aircraft, as well as government agencies at all levels around the world.
Read an Excerpt
Albert was livid. Absolutely livid.
"How could they?" he said to himself. "How could they ask me, how could they ask anyone with any intelligence whatsoever, to put up with this kind of treatment?"
The young man was seething as he slammed into his chair and assaulted his computer. If the mouse had been a live one, it surely would have suffered whiplash from Albert's jerking as he whipped it back and forth across the mouse pad to disengage his computer's screen saver and cause the menu display to pop onto the screen.
Albert quickly scrolled the cursor to his Internet browser icon and double clicked. He tapped his right heel up and down and glared off into the opposite side of his office cubicle, fuming as he waited for the computer to bring up his designated home page.
His anger slowly gave way to fear and a deep, gutwrenching anxiety as he continued to reflect on what had just happened. His stomach began to tie up in knots as he realized that his second experience in working with groups had quickly become worse than his first.
The first "Tiger Team" they had assigned him to had been bad enough. But fortunatelyboth for Albert and the other team membersthe assignment had been a short one. The work was for the most part completed by the time Albert joined the group. Albert's contribution wasn't critical to the outcome, but was important to the project's overall success. The good news was that although Albert's piece was indeed challenging, it didn't require too much collaboration withthe others on the team.
From the beginning Albert felt that the other Tiger Team members weren't very friendly. They were congenial to each other, but never really warmed up to him. Even more important, though, he felt they didn't show enough respect for his intellect or his ideas. Deep down inside he knew he was smarter than all but one, and he could certainly hold his own with her. Worse yet, they were almost arrogant about the work they had already accomplished, even though Albert was confident he could have done a better job.
However, strained feelings and underlying tensions aside, the team and Albert finished the project before anyone's emotions festered to the boiling point. Albert went back to his own work, relieved the project was over. He was thankful he could work alone without having to worry about all the hassles, frustrations, and endless, time-consuming delays of dealing with a bunch of groupies who were more interested in what everybody else was doing than they were in getting the job done.
Then came this second Tiger Team.
Even the term Tiger Team rubbed him the wrong way. What was it supposed to mean? Albert suspected it was just a form of manipulation to get people to think they were special if they did something with a bunch of other people.
Well, Albert didn't feel special. In fact, working in a group just gave him a headache.
Why couldn't they just tell people what was needed, divvy up the work, and then let them go do it?
No, that'd be too easy, he reflected.
Albert's frustration with this second team had set in early. The team had started off in what Albert considered to be the wrong direction. He thought they were trying to satisfy too many people with the design, thereby making the finished product much too complicated.
When they told him they had to follow that approach because it was specifically spelled out in the team's charter, he clammed up. Have it your way, he thought smugly to himself. You'll see.
The next uncomfortable moment was triggered in the team's second meeting when Albert told the team leader his name was "Albertnot Al. Two syllables, not one." He momentarily felt a little guilty that the team leader had been embarrassed when Albert corrected him in front of everyone. But only a little guilty. He thought it insulting that the guy couldn't even refer to him by his correct name.
And now this.
Each of the team members had agreed to complete an assignment during the three-week time period between the second and third meeting. Then they would get back together at the third meeting and piece things together to lay the foundation for the rest of the project.
After starting his work according to the criteria that the group had agreed upon, Albert came up with a better idea. He refocused his efforts and put all his energy into developing this new idea. For the past two weeks, he worked day and night, and even gave up both weekends. With the exception of a couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday when he played Frisbee with his pet Australian shepherd, Digger, he worked nonstop. He was eager for everyone to see how much better his plan was.
He prepared a presentation to deliver to the group at the beginning of the third meeting. He even titled it "A Better Way," so they would get the point quickly and not waste any more time following the mediocre direction they had originallyand by Albert's judgment, mistakenlytaken. He even rehearsed the presentation a few times in front of Digger, who enthusiastically barked his approval.
Albert had stayed up all night working to fine-tune his speech and was in the office early that morning, eager to present his ideas to the other team members.
Then came the meeting.
As soon as the group had exchanged their usual pleasantries, Richard, the project leader, outlined his agenda. Albert interrupted to ask if he could take a few moments to address the group before they started work on the agenda. He assured them they'd be pleasantly surprised and would consider it time well spent.
The group consented.
Albert proceeded to outline his ideas and the plan he had spent the past two weeks perfecting.
To say the presentation didn't go well would be a considerable understatement.
As soon as he started to explain how his idea was superior to the one the group conceived, the team members began to withdraw. Some folded their arms. Faces turned serious; some were even grim. The overall reaction was decidedly negative.
When team members started questioning the reasons for some of Albert's suggestions, Albert became defensive and pushed even harder to convince the group that his way was a better way. He raised his voice, impatient to get his point across, but the louder he spoke, the louder the dissenting team members protested. The meeting quickly became a classic power struggle.
And Albert lost. Big time.
He not only lost the argument, but he lost his cool.
Albert's composure was annihilated as he stormed out of the conference room in a huffan angry, contemptuous huffthat left a wake of ruffled emotions and unresolved conflict.
So now here he was. Mindlessly surfing through cyberspace, contemplating his situation, and wondering why some people were so hard to get along with.
Albert longed for a return to the days when he was in college. Albert had graduated cum laude from the University of Northeastern Michigan (UNM) with a bachelor of science degree in computer engineering. He graduated in three years instead of the usual four or five like most students these days. Albert would have been the valedictorian the year he graduated had it not been for his less-than-stellar grades in his humanities classes. In the classes he really likedthose that focused on computers, math, and sciencethe college classroom environment served him well. He studied hard, went to class, locked into each professor's delivery, and filed away everything he learned in his computer-like brain. Albert could memorize formulas, equations, and programs, and could always come up with the right answers. He would do his work, study hard, and was solely responsible for his academic success.
At graduation time Albert was recruited heavily and was quickly hired by United Global Advance Technologies, better known as UGAT. UGAT is a Chicago-based high technology company with worldwide operations. He settled in quickly and rapidly gained notoriety as the company's brightest rising star.
Ten months later he was assigned to his first Tiger Team. The team was brought on board to help complete the company's hottest and most important project.
Albert felt his contribution was minor because he was put on the project so late in the game, but because he crossed the finish line with the group, he was included in the recognition for the project's success. In fact, he even received special recognition for getting up to speed no quickly and helping out at the last minute.
That's why Albert's department head, Megan Godwine, had assigned Albert to be on this current project from the beginning. It was a terrific opportunityone that would have normally been reserved for a more senior and experienced person. But Albert had established himself with his work on the first team and Megan felt this second team would be a great chance for him to proceed on the fast track. Megan seemed to genuinely want to see Albert succeed. She was the person who recruited him and urged him to come on board at UGAT She was also a graduate of UNM and in fact had first learned about Albert through her old professors. As a department head, she was constantly on the lookout for top talent, and the professors knew it. They enthusiastically recommended Albert to her and Megan immediately recognized his potential. Now she offered him what she thought to be the opportunity of a lifetime and he wanted out.
What should I say when I meet with her in the morning? Albert asked himself. He and Megan had an appointment scheduled for 8:00 A.M. so he could debrief her on the project and how it was going.
Until now he had been looking forward to the meeting, confident he'd be able to tell her all about how he had reshaped the project direction and really made a difference. But now all he could think about was how to tell her he wanted a different assignment.
He couldn't work with these people. Not now. Not after they had completely humiliated him by rejecting his ideas without even so much as a hint of reasonable consideration. Why couldn't they just put their egos aside and listen, even just a little? Most of them had stopped listening in the first three minutes! There's no way she could expect him to take that. It was a sign of disrespect and an indication that they didn't want to work with hint.
Maybe it's because I'm still one of the new people around here, he thought. But it's wrong for them to treat me that way, even if I am new. Besides, don't they get it? It's the ideas that matter, not me. I'll bet if any one of them had the same idea, they'd think it was great. They're just intimidated by someone my age being so far ahead of them. They're trying to teach me a lesson, make me pay my dues.
Well, they can have their lesson, he thought. Tomorrow when I meet with Megan, maybe I should just tell her to tell them that they can take that attitude and my job on this Tiger Team and shove it.
One thing he was certain of was that he was not going to let Megan think any of this was his fault. Even though he suspected that the knot in his stomach was at least partly caused by the knowledge that in some way he had provoked the team's reactions, he didn't want to admit that to Megan.
No, he thought. In as polite and respectful a manner as possible, I'll just ask her to take me off the team. Maybe there's another team with different people she can assign me to. But what I'd really like to do is work alone.
Albert went home and took Digger for a romp in the park. However, playing with Digger didn't take his mind off his problems. After a sleepless and fitful night, Albert showed up at Megan's office at 8:00 sharp, dreading their meeting but wanting to get it over with.
Albert had developed two possible lines of reasoning to present to Megan about why it would be better for him to not continue with the Tiger Team.
First was that he didn't fit in because of his age. The other team members were all older, had been with the company longer, and considered themselves more experienced. Second, his intelligence made others jealous and competitive. It was obvious that he was smarter than most of them. His superior intelligence made it hard for them to accept him. He had run into this before. As soon as he opened his mouth, others would try to one-up him to prove how smart they were. People felt threatened by him, which often resulted in a battle of wills and feelings of resentment. This was exactly what was happening with this Tiger Team.
The problem was he didn't think it would be good to share either of these thoughts with Megan. Definitely not the intelligence theory. He knew from experience that if he raised that issue the conversation would most likely shift from intelligence to ego and all that psychological stuff that he hated. Besides, he thought, I don't have any ego problems. All I want is to be able to do a good job and have everyone else do a good job, too.
He didn't want to get into the age issue, either. He'd always been ahead of his age. He was typically the youngest person in most of his technical classes. Over time he'd come to expect that a few people in every group would resent him being so bright and young. Long ago he had decided to ignore them. If they had a problem, let it be their problem. He wasn't going to let it be his.
Why is it so hard to connect with other people? he asked, for at least the thousandth time in his life. Why don't other people get frustrated trying to get their ideas across? Or do they? Again, as he had many times before in his life, he retreated quickly from this line of thought. No sense wasting time in speculation.
After saying good morning, he started by telling Megan that after having been to a few of the Tiger Team meetings, and looking at the work the team was pursuing, he felt his talents could be better used elsewhere. He even had a proposal for a new project he could work on by himself. It took him about ten minutes to explain all this, while Megan just listened. She was a good listener, asking questions to clarify certain things Albert had said, and she took a lot of notes.
When Albert was finished outlining his proposal, he asked what she thought.
"Well," she responded, "I'm somewhat surprised at what you're proposing. But I was warned that you wouldn't be feeling totally pleased about the way things are going."
"What do you mean?" Albert responded. "I've been working hard on this project."
"I know. I've noticed. But Richard called me at home last night to tell me about yesterday."
"It's no big deal."
"Richard has some major concerns. He said the whole team was upset, and that you got really emotional."
"That's all the more reason my proposal makes sense. Richard can find someone else to do my job, I'll go work on this other project, and everyone will be happy."
"It's not that easy, Albert. Richard said that as the project manager, he's had concerns about your ability to get along with the team members since the beginning. He was going to wait for one more meeting to come and talk to me, then this happened. But this is not something we can call just not getting along. What happened yesterday is much more serious."
"So what does that mean? Are you going to fire me?" Albert's impatience began to show.
"Whoa, not so fast." Megan was caught off guard by Albert's cutting reply. "We need to talk about this."
"There really isn't that much to talk about." Albert answered back. "Your Tiger Team wants to do its thing without me, and I like working by myself, so why not just do it that way and make everybody happy?"
"Because I wouldn't be happy, and the company's needs wouldn't be getting met."
"I don't get it."
"Albert, you were assigned to the team for two reasons. First, because of what you can contribute to the project, but second, because it's a nice career step for you."
"I'm not the only one who can contribute. And besides, they don't want my contribution. So why not get somebody else? Isn't that the easiest way?"
"The easiest way isn't always the winning way," Megan explained. "It's my job to see we do things the best way possible."
"Best for who?"
"If it isn't good for everyone, and especially the company, then it probably isn't the right way for anyone."
"What about me? Do I count as part of everyone? Because if I do, I'd just as soon work by myself."
"You're definitely part of everyone. But it sounds to me like you really need to think through your perspectiveby that I mean how you relate to everyone and what the nature of your relationship should be."
"What's wrong with 'I do my work and they do theirs?' That way the work gets done and everything's a whole lot less complicated. Besides, weren't we all hired for the same reason? For our technical expertise?"
"You were hired to produce results for UGAT. And throughout your career many of the results you'll be required to produce will be with and through other peopleeither as a team member, part of a network, or perhaps later on as a leader."
Both sat in silence as Albert thought for a moment about what Megan had just said.
"These weren't the things we talked about when you hired me."
What People are Saying About This
“Winning Ways shows you how to work well with people and win!”—Spencer Johnson, M.D., bestselling author of Who Moved My Cheese?
“The best guidelines I’ve seen to help you unleash your power and reach your maximum potential.”—Ken Blanchard
“You can’t be a star player on your team if you don’t have winning ways. This smart, sensible book shows how to develop them.”—Tom Muccio, Vice-President, Procter & Gamble Worldwide
“The best book ever written about how to work well with others. All new employees should receive a copy the first day on the job.”—Art Bauer, President and CEO, American Media Incorporated
“[A] smart, sensible book…When you win, the team wins, and that’s what counts in today’s business world.”—Tom Muccio, Vice-President, Procter & Gamble Worldwide
“If you want to develop your own ‘winning ways,’ this book offers the guidance you need. It puts common sense before corporate jargon, and it can benefit anyone who works with peopleespecially the manager on his or her way up the ladder.”—Marc Davis, Vice-President, Universal Care
“Winning Ways works for family-owned businesses as well as it does for large corporations. All family members, older and younger generations, working inside or outside the business, can benefit from this wisdom.”—Barry Graff, Ph.D., Family business consultant, RSM McGladrey
Exclusive bn.com Author Essay
Winning Traits for Today's Workplace
by Dick Lyles
As we race further into the knowledge age, two major changes are affecting organizations throughout the world. First is that organizations are becoming flatter and more networked. Second is that the hierarchies of authority are becoming increasingly more invisible. The type of networking that is occurring in organizations is one step beyond mere computer networking for the transfer of information. Rather, it is the networking of human energy, combining in synergistic ways across a myriad of different relationships, to produce economic results. More and more, the results that are produced by organizations are a by-product of personal influence rather than positional power. The authoritarian hierarchies that served us well in the industrial era are inadequate to meet our needs today. Thus the leadership and influence styles that served us well when operating under those structures are also becoming the tools and approaches of a bygone era.
Members of today's workforce are generally well equipped to communicate effectively in an information-networked world using the computers they grew up with. The difficult part comes when those individuals must use the same information to drive results in organizations via people-driven processes. This is especially difficult in organizations where those processes require productive interaction with large numbers of individuals and groups of people in a wide variety of contexts. In these types of settings, hierarchical or position power has almost no value in driving everyday results. Personalpower is everything. But it must be positive personal power. It must be the kind of power that not only drives results, but also provides a solid foundation for long-term, productive human relationships.
My primary purpose in writing Winning Ways was to offer people simple strategies to overcome this difficult processstrategies that would empower them to be able to work effectively with others today and in the future. But they are also strategies that can be applied in the absence of formal authority. Because of my role as president and chief operating officer for the Ken Blanchard Companies, I am reminded daily of these changing organizational and personal needs. The clients for whom we provide consulting and training services are some of the largest, best, and most successful companies in the world. All of them are experiencing the changes I've described above.
The four secrets in Winning Ways are actually four strategies that emerged from my extensive work as an organizational consultant, a problem-solving consultant, and a top executive in numerous companies. These secrets have been learned theoretically, and have proven themselves to me through my real-world experiences, both personal and professional.
I think you'll enjoy and appreciate the book's lively and vibrant parable format. Not only does it provide you with a good, enjoyable story line, but the parable will also enable you to remember the messages longer and apply them more effectively.
My fervent hope is that the strategies in Winning Ways will bring as much fulfillment and success to the book's readers as they have brought to me during my career. Winning-best wishes to you all.
Dick Lyles, Ph.D., is president and chief operating officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies. He has been an active speaker and management consultant with an international clientele for more than 20 years. His clients have included numerous Fortune 500 companies, among them Exxon and Hughes Aircraft, as well as government agencies at all levels around the world.