Great Business Teams: What’s the Secret?


Great Business Teams: What’s the Secret?

Press Release

June 18, 2008

Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, Mars Incorporated, Novartis Oncology, Pfizer, and Philip Morris USA, among others, are named companies with “great business teams” by Howard M. Guttman in Great Business Teams: Cracking the Code for Standout Performance (John Wiley, June 2008).
Guttman’s latest book examines the inner workings of several dozen high-performance senior executive teams, assessing how they react to significant challenges. He singles out five characteristics that make them excel. 

Guttman comments, “Great business teams abandon old hub-and-spoke thinking and operate in a high-performance, horizontal mode.” He discovered that great teams radically redefine management fundamentals: everything from assumptions about what it means to lead and be a player, what behaviors are acceptable, what accountability entails, what skills are needed, and the criteria for measuring success.  

When Paul Michaels became president of Mars Incorporated, he knew that the company needed to achieve far greater growth and financial return. But he faced internal organizational challenges every bit as daunting as those he faced in the marketplace. The top team at Mars was siloed and replete with unspoken agendas. 

Michaels believed that the horizontal model represented the best bet for the future. “High-performance, horizontal teams are by far the most efficient way of operating  . . . This model can speed up progress by years.”

Michaels took his team through an intensive “alignment” session to that ensure team members operated from the same playbook, became accountable for one another’s—and his—results, and confronted one another on issues. As a result, team members committed to the horizontal vision, agreed on decision-making ground rules, called one another on unacceptable behavior, and eventually moved to adopt a similar approach within their operations. The goal: a great organization, made up of great teams, on every level.

Guttman found that Michaels and the other executives cited in Great Business Teams employ a unique “distributive power” leadership model. They create horizontal playing fields, make teams accountable for results, and then ask: How much decision-making “room” does a team require to achieve standout results? Once the preconditions for operating horizontally are in place, power no longer follows old hierarchies but flows or is “distributed” to meet the challenges at hand.

For more on Great Business Teams: Cracking the Code for Standout Performance, visit or any bookseller.

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