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Why You Must Train and Develop Different Things As Teams Grow

Tuesday, December 3, 2013
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As things change, training and development needs change—especially when you’re growing. The training and development that teams of less than 10 people need is different than the needs of teams of 10 to 30. Then, teams of more than 30 present additional challenges and opportunities.

As teams grow, they need to focus on different components of the BRAVE leadership framework. The BRAVE approach helps leaders build their teams by uniting them around a shared purpose, and it reflects an acronym that stands for behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values and environment.

Here’s a quick overview of what each letter means:

  • Behaviors – The actions that make real lasting impact on others.
  • Relationships – The heart of leadership. If you can’t connect, you can’t lead.
  • Attitudes – Encompassing strategic, posture, and culture choices around how to win.
  • Values – The bedrock of a high performing team. Get clear on what really matters and why.
  • Environment – Setting the context for everything else by understanding where you are playing.

In our new book First-Time Leader, we apply that framework to teams of different sizes.

Smaller teams can adopt a start-up mindset

If you are training and developing a small team (less than 10 people), it is best to lead with environment and values. Help members assess the competitive landscape to see how they’ll compete, and get clear on the values that will drive future decisions. You can build everything else over time.

These teams should play where they can solve someone’s problem. Then help assemble an early team of complementary partners. Not everyone on the team needs to have strategic, operational and organizational strengths. But someone on the team should, and all must buy in to the same values.

The key takeaway for developing small teams is to start by focusing on problem solving, values and creating momentum.

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Treat larger teams like an extended family

Once the team grows beyond a nuclear family with everyone reporting to one leader, the nature of how the team works changes. At this point, attitude starts to become more important. Help these teams get their strategy set (deciding at what they are going to be best in the world), and use that to guide how to grow the team and which capabilities to add first.

With teams of 10 to 30 people or so, the leaders know everyone and can treat them like extended family. Even so, this is the time to implement rudimentary people-management and operating practices.

The lesson here is that as the team grows, emphasize differentiation and culture.

When working with super large teams, hierarchy is your friend

If the team has more than 30 people, you need to get over your natural abhorrence of hierarchy and begin substituting some organizational and operating processes for the leader’s ability to know everyone on the team. With this size team, lead with relating and delegate appropriately.

Work on the organization. Put in place enabling practices to scale, and remember the number 1 job of the leader is to own and reinforce vision and values. This gets ever more important (and complicated) as the organization grows.

Next, when developing teams with more than 30 people work on the organization and enabling practices while reinforcing vision and values.

Click here to request an executive summary of First-Time Leader.

About the Author

George Bradt has a unique perspective on transformational leadership based on his experience as a business leader, consultant, and journalist. He progressed through sales, marketing, and general management roles around the world at companies including Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and J.D. Power’s Power Information Network spin-off as chief executive. Now he is a principal of CEO Connection and managing director of the executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis.

George is a graduate of Harvard and Wharton (MBA), co-author of four books on onboarding, including The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan, and co-author of a weekly column on Forbes.com, The New Leader’s Playbook.

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