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The power of ‘as one’ behavior

by on
in Management Training

As CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, James H. Quigley oversees a net­work of member firms composed of more than 170,000 employees in 145 countries. He recently co-authored a book, As One, about the eight archetypes of leaders and followers—and about applying those models to your organization to unlock the power of teams working “as one.”

EL: What do you see as the potential, if leaders could only get large groups of people to work more efficiently together?

Quigley: When you look at the top quintile of companies, you’ll find that the source of their winning edge is they have leaders who are effectively performing their roles. Companies stuck in the middle or bottom tier—those leaders aren’t able to bring together the power of the organization and get one behavior from the organization.

I haven’t done a study on that, to say “‘As one’ behavior improves y by x.” But I do believe passionately that unlocking “as one” behavior is a competitive advantage. If you can better connect with your team, bring them together and have them work as one, you’ll enjoy the winning edge.

EL: How did you unlock that behavior in your own organization?

Quigley: I brought 550 partners intimately into a discussion of strategy development. I worked hard to bring everyone together and make sure they participated. I put out the challenge, the big ambition of enabling “as one” behavior. And I believe that today we’re aligned, we’re committed.

EL: You lay out eight archetypes of leaders and followers. Which one are you?

Quigley: Our organization is very much in the Architects & Builders mode (one of the arche­types from the book). So I’m playing the role of Architect, and I have a whole bunch of Builders driving the strategy. There are 9,500 partners driving that strategy, causing the right behaviors to cascade through the organization.

As a point of comparison, Apple is an example of a Landlord & Tenant model—with Apple serving as the Land­lord, while app developers (Tenants) seek a seat on that platform.

EL: How do you know whether “as one” behavior is working in your organization?

Quigley: I just watch the signs. I receive e-mails like, “Jim, here’s another great example of ‘as one’ behavior, where teams from seven countries came together to service a client.”

We sustain the message by communicating with partners every week about strategy. It’s a continuing challenge, especially in a large, complex organization. But we’re absolutely making progress.

EL: Is that typical of your style of leader­ship, putting forth “big ambitions” to those in your organization?

Quigley: If my 9,500 partners are on board with me, we can move this enterprise. It won’t be because of an ability to command and con­trol 9,500 people. I don’t enjoy that. I need to lead with the power of my ideas, the strength of our culture, and my ability to rally us around significant ambitions. And I need to be with them, in the marketplace and with clients, in order for them to understand my passion for client-service excellence.

Editor’s note: The eight archetypes of leaders and followers are: Landlord & Tenants, Community Organizer & Volunteers, Conductor & Orchestra, Producer & Creative Team, General & Soldiers, Architect & Builders, Captain & Sports Team, Senator & Citizens.

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