Onboarding New Leadership

hands_colorfulTeams are dynamic growing entities that changes shape and energy as they respond to the many challenges and impacts on their environments and internal systems. These days, organisations cannot get their work done without reliance on teams whether they are cross-functional or homogenously located within departments or divisions. Leveraging organisation-wide collaboration off these teams is critical especially where innovation and information sharing has become the new competitive currency. We have often witnessed how teams struggle to cycle through their stages of maturity toward sustained performance.

The stages I’m referencing here are those introduced by Tuckman 1960:

Orming Model








High dependence on leader for guidance and direction. Little agreement on team aims other than received from leader. Individual roles and responsibilities are unclear. Leader must be prepared to answer lots of questions about the team’s purpose, objectives and external relationships. Members test tolerance of system and leader. Leader directs by going into the telling mode.

Decisions don’t come easily within the group. Team members compete for position as they attempt to establish themselves in relation to other team members and the leader, who might receive challenges from team members. Clarity of purpose increases but plenty of uncertainties persist. Cliques and factions form and there may be power struggles. The team needs to be focused on its goals to avoid becoming distracted by relationships and emotional issues. Compromises may be required to enable progress.

Agreement and consensus is largely formed among team, who respond well to facilitation by leader. Roles and responsibilities are clear and accepted. Big decisions are made by group agreement. Smaller decisions may be delegated to individuals or small teams within group. Commitment and unity is strong. The team may engage in fun and social activities. The team discusses and develops its processes and working style. There is general respect for the leader and some of leadership is more shared by the team. Leader facilitates and enables.

The team is more strategically aware; the team knows clearly why it is doing what it is doing. The team has a shared vision and is able to stand on its own feet with no interference or participation from the leader. There is a focus on over-achieving goals, and the team makes most of the decisions against criteria agreed with the leader. The team has a high degree of autonomy. Disagreements occur but now they are resolved within the team positively and necessary changes to processes and structure are made by the team. The team is able to work towards achieving the goal, and also to attend to relationship, style and process issues along the way. Team members look after each other. The team requires delegated tasks and projects from the leader. The team does not need to be instructed or assisted. Team members might ask for assistance from the leader with personal and interpersonal development. Leader delegates and oversees.

Any time a team experiences changes in membership or leadership, completes a major assignment, or gains a new assignment, we have discovered that it will cycle through the four stages again. If a team has learned this process, it will of course be able to cycle through each stage much more quickly. The group will have learned an important skill: adapting to change while maintaining productivity.

We have assisted several teams where there was an introduction of new leadership to vest the new leader through our unique, ancient and modern process. This becomes an opportunity for the team to review it culture, values, rules of engagement and vision. We also through this leadership vesting process help the team to identify its current and future challenges in an empowering and enabling way. Through this process the leader is understood and the leader understands their mandate.