“A high-performing team demonstrates a high level of synergism—the simultaneous actions of separate entities that together have a greater effect than the sum of their individual efforts. It is possible, for example, for a team’s efforts to exemplify an equation such as 2 + 2 = 5! High-performing teams require a complementary set of characteristics known collectively as “SCORE™”—cohesive strategy, clear roles and responsibilities, open communication, rapid response, and effective leadership.”

– Sattar Bawany (2023)

The SCORE™ Framework for Developing High-Performance Teams

Despite society’s emphasis on individuality, the critical work of business today is undertaken by teams, whether real or virtual. The success of organizations can be closely linked to how well these teams of diverse individuals perform, and it is clear that some teams truly do excel. Based on studies from extensive consulting engagements by the Centre for Executive Education (CEE) over a decade, several key elements have been identified as critical in high-performance organizations. These elements constitute the SCORE™ framework for high-performing teams.

A high-performing team demonstrates a high level of synergism—the simultaneous actions of separate entities that together have a greater effect than the sum of their individual efforts. It is possible, for example, for a team’s efforts to exemplify an equation such as 2 + 2 = 5! High-performing teams require a complementary set of characteristics known collectively as “SCORE™”—cohesive strategy, clear roles and responsibilities, open communication, rapid response, and effective leadership—as outlined in Table 9.1.

In high-performing teams, leadership shifts during the stages of team development based on team needs. Unlike organizational leadership, which remains somewhat constant, team leadership can shift from very directing, when the team is being formed, to more delegating, when the team is functioning effectively. When you have assessed your team’s current performance level and needs, you will be ready to move on to building your dream team in whatever SCORE™ category you choose to begin (Bawany 2020).

Table 9.1 “SCORE™” characteristics of high-performing teams

Characteristics Descriptions
S: Cohesive Strategy High-performing teams with a cohesive strategy will demonstrate why they are in existence by articulating a strong, uniting purpose that is common to all team members. They will describe how they work together by defining team values and ground rules also known as team charter, which will guide the team’s actions. Finally, they will be clear about what they do by defining key result areas (KRAs) and performance standards

Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how an organization operates and delivers value to customers. The role of the disruptive digital leader as a project leader is to define the project objectives or terms of reference in collaboration with the sponsors (CEO or other designated C-level executive). He or she would also need to relate to the team members how the project is being undertaken to the organization’s broader digital transformation agenda and also how it is aligned to the overall organization’s corporate strategy

C: Establishing Clear Roles and Responsibilities Successful teams determine overall team competencies and then clearly define individual member roles and responsibilities. High-performing teams examine each individual’s responsibilities in terms of the key competencies of the role, resulting in an accurate understanding of each member’s accountability and contribution to the team

Digital transformation projects would typically involve various C-suite executives such as the chief digital transformation officer (CDTO), chief digital officer (CDO), chief technology officer (CTO), chief information officer (CIO), and chief marketing officer (CMO). While the CDTO as the project leader is accountable for the implementation of the project and operational activities, business transformation is a strategic initiative requiring the complete collaboration of the entire C-suite including the chief executive officer (CEO) and the chief finance officer (CFO). Hence, there is a need to clearly define the role and contribution of each of these C-suite executives to the project to avoid potential conflict, which will impact the morale of the project team members

O: Developing Open Communication and Trust Communication is the key component in facilitating successful team performance; its lack limits team success. Effective communication includes flexing and adapting one’s style of communication to suit the other team members. Also, a cohesive culture is attained when interpersonal interactions flow smoothly and individual differences are also respected and leveraged to enhance overall team functioning

Delivering any digital transformation project depends on effective collaboration and communication. Collaboration acts as a catalyst to move digital transformation efforts forward, while new digital processes bring about new ways of working together. Greater collaboration is needed to access the information required in digital transformation projects. For many organizations, data still exist in silos and proprietary technologies can still limit how it’s shared within an organization

As businesses move to a more customer-centric culture, breaking down silos becomes crucial. This is where collaborative tools play their part. The information created and unleashed by digital transformation will require unified communications tools that access the data, whether it’s a document, e-mail, or multimedia recording, and distribute it to another project team member or company-wide. Team members won’t be able to collaborate effectively using legacy tools, and digital transformation goes a long way in enabling successful collaboration

R: Rapid Response to Problem Solving and Decision Making A high-performing team responds quickly, as necessary, to changes in the environment, by shifting their mental models with creativity and “outside-the-box” thinking. When faced with a problem, these teams brainstorm possible solutions and create innovative resolutions leveraging disruptive leadership competencies including agility, adaptability, cognitive readiness, and criticalthinking skills

Organizations faced with digital transformation often neglect how it will impact their way of making decisions. There is a growing need to gain a competitive advantage by making decisions faster. Digital transformation requires operational agility from organizations that reach into decisions and decision making. In general, decision making has already moved to more agile environments such as WhatsApp and other instant messaging applications, which have made overall communication more informal and unstructured. However, there hasn’t been a tool to specifically support complex problem solving and decision making, particularly for large, complex organizations

The frequency and pace of change from digital disruption necessitate that companies can no longer rely on traditional planning and decision-making models. A rapid decision must be made in a timely and confident manner that will not only meet customer expectations but also exceed them, resulting in a competitive advantage for the organization. Any delay, interruption, or downtime, inside and outside the network, can accumulate a cost that is detrimental to the organization

Adopting a rapid response approach in decision making will allow the project team to adapt, adjust, and, when necessary, pivot in real time on how to approach the implementation of the digital transformation project. This will result in delivering the project key performance indicators (KPIs) or desired outcomes, which will ultimately drive growth for the organization

E: Exemplary and Effective Leadership An effective team leader can adjust his or her leadership style leveraging on the results-based leadership (RBL) framework as necessary depending on the task at hand and the skill level of each team member performing that task. The team leader also demonstrates effective emotional and social intelligence competencies including empathy and relationship management/social skills as well as plays a critical role in raising morale by having coaching conversations with team members (leveraging on GROW model) and providing developmental feedback to improve individual and team performance. Finally, the team leader takes an active role in guiding the team through each stage of team development by using team-building activities and celebrating the success of early wins

The key to success for any digital transformation is team leadership commitment. The leader needs to demonstrate an innovative mindset to test and apply new technologies and techniques that can be used to streamline existing business processes and lead the business forward

They would need to create a culture where their team members exhibit behaviors such as a sense of urgency, calculated risk taking, increased collaboration, customer centricity, continuous learning, and an open and trustbased work environment where their team members have a say on where digitization could and should be adopted or which business processes to be redesigned

The disruptive digital team leader needs to communicate the project vision with the “storytelling” approach to assist team members, and the other employees organization-wide, to better understand the business case for implementing the digital transformation initiatives, where it is heading, and why the changes are important. Leaders that follow this practice are likely to achieve higher success in their digital transformation projects

Finally, the disruptive digital team leader has the greatest influence on the success of the digital transformation projects by ensuring that there are clear targets for KPIs and clear communication of the transformation’s timeline

Reference: Sattar Bawany (2023), Leadership in Disruptive Times: Negotiating the New Balance. Business Expert Press (BEP) LLC, New York, NY. Abstract available at: https://www.disruptiveleadership.institute/second-edition-book/