November 2011Nano Tools for Leaders ®Leadership

Leading "As One": From Individual Action to Collective Power

leading as one

Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.

Contributor: James Quigley, Senior Partner, Deloitte U.S.; former CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited;  co-author of As One: Individual Action, Collective Power (Portfolio / Penguin, 2011).

The Goal:

Build collective behavior to execute your company's strategic priorities using a practical, data-driven approach.

Nano Tool:

Imagine if everyone in your organization, team, or division was focused on collaboratively achieving strategic goals. Imagine the innovation, the productivity, and the competitive advantages that would result. Getting people to work together effectively “As One” isn’t simple. In fact, it is a universal leadership challenge. But new work at Deloitte’s Center for Strategic Leadership reveals that generating As One behavior is within every organization’s reach.

The traditional model for motivating people to be “team players” — command and control — has been declared outdated and ineffective. But is a new, loosely defined “agile and adaptive” model the answer? As One reveals that collective leadership isn’t either/or. In fact, Deloitte’s research has identified at least eight distinct models, or “As One Archetypes,” that provide the template, the language, and the common understanding that can be used to turn individual action into collective power. You can assess whether your organization’s default archetype is best suited to achieve collective behavior, or whether a new archetype might be a better fit.

Knowing and understanding your current collective leadership archetype is important for two reasons. First, if the archetype is a good fit, it can be strengthened. Second, if it is not working well, another archetype should be considered.

How Companies Use It:

  • Ratan Tata's vision was to create "the Indian people's car," one that would cost Rs 1 lakh (about US$2500). But his company did not have the capabilities to manufacture the car alone. Tata appealed individually to 500 suppliers and vendors who had very different reasons for joining, but worked As One on the car. The process was arduous, but after five years and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, the Tata Nano was introduced in 2009. In 2010, it was named Indian Car of the Year. Tata exemplifies the Architect and Builders archetype. Architects use their own passion, vision, and conviction to persuade an often diverse group of the best builders to join their project and then direct them toward a goal.
  • Every day, FedEx Ground delivers more than 3.5 million packages to businesses in the U.S. and Canada with near-perfect reliability. The "orchestra" is comprised of 15,000 men and women who are committed to high standards of fast, safe, and reliable service. Through role and task clarity, FedEx Ground ensures that its drivers — who are all independent contractors and manage their own business and time — meet those high standards. FedEx Ground represents the Conductor and Orchestra archetype, which works best when there is little room for improvisation, creativity, or deviation. The "conductor" issues precise, highly scripted directions, and the orchestra's goal is to follow them exactly.
  • Cirque du Soleil, the French-Canadian performance group, draws on team members who complement, rather than replicate, one another. A “cookie cutter” approach would undermine the work product, which benefits from creative dissent from the norm and the freedom to express individuality. The central "producer" articulates the overall idea or objective, and the "team" brings it to life. Cirque du Soleil personifies the Producer and Creative Team archetype, which sits on the opposite end of the creativity spectrum. Independent-minded individuals within an open culture of collaboration form a team of innovative thinkers, and the "producer's" role is to guide that thinking.
  • See the Additional Resources below to learn more about As One.

Action Steps:

  1. Identify the archetype that reflects your company's — or your team's — current, or default archetype using the As One classifier.
  2. Consider whether this is the best style to accomplish your objectives, or whether another style might be more effective.
  3. If you feel you need to make a change, consider what steps you can take to make that happen (As One offers many suggestions for leading the transition).
  4. Although it's often most effective to make changes in leadership style from the top, on an enterprise-wide basis, you can also adapt the archetype of your own team or in your own division and see significant results. A team that functions "As One" will be more energized, engaged, and productive.
  5. Once you've achieved success within a team or division, consider how you might "lead up" to encourage changes more broadly across the organization.

Share Your Best Practices:

Do you have a best practice for encouraging collaboration and “As One” behavior in your organization? If so, please share it on our blog at Wharton's Center for Leadership and Change Management.

Additional Resources:

  • As One: Individual Action, Collective Power, Mehrdad Baghai and James Quigley (Portfolio / Penguin, 2011). Defines the eight archetypes of leaders and followers, and provides more than 60 cases of successful collaborative behavior from a wide range of situations. The authors identify key characteristics that define each model and show how you can apply them to your organization.
  • website of the Deloitte Center for Strategic Leadership includes an archetype classifier to determine your archetype, case studies, additional research, and information about Deloitte's diagnostic that measures an organization’s ability to work As One.
  • As One iPhone App
  • As One HD iPad App
  • Jim Quigley leads a session on "As One" leadership in Wharton Executive Education's Executive Development Program.

About Nano Tools:

Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, Director of Innovative Learning Solutions at Wharton Executive Education. It is jointly sponsored by Wharton Executive Education and Wharton's Center for Leadership and Change Management, Wharton Professor of Management Michael Useem, Director; Associate Professor Adam Grant, Nano Tools Academic Director.

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