The Rocket Model: Team Power

Rocket Model

Team power can be defined as the quantity and quality of resources available to a team. Resources include facilities, office space, computers, telecommunication systems, specialized equipment, software systems, budgets, and the level of authority granted to teams. Executive leadership teams often have many resources and wide discretion in decision-making—for example, the authority to spend billions to acquire other companies. In contrast, task forces such as the 9/11 Commission or the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reformcan only make recommendations and have little authority to make final decisions.

All groups and teams need resources in order to succeed. However, the resources that they need will depend on their goals. Account executives who are part of a regional sales group will need computers, customer resource management software, sales collateral, and travel budgets. A professional hockey team needs training facilities, hockey equipment, chartered aircraft, etc., to successfully compete. A lack of physical resources or the authority to acquire them will impede team and group success. For example, we know a manager of a talent acquisition team for a major retailer who had to have all staffing decisions approved by three layers of management. Virtually every decision, no matter how small, needed the blessing of the Senior Vice President of Human Resources. This bureaucratic structure significantly reduced the team’s ability to make timely hiring offers, and they routinely lost highly qualified candidates.

Leaders need to clarify their team or group’s purpose before worrying about the resources they need to succeed. Is the team to be held accountable for making recommendations or achieving results? If it is the latter, then how do these results impact the larger organization? Teams that make big contributions need more power than those that make few contributions. Clarifying who makes the decisions about physical assets, budgets, and authority can help improve commitment and cohesiveness; nothing will disempower a group or team faster than discovering that upper management will make all the calls.

The default position for most leaders and teams is to ask for more resources, yet research shows that most teams squander what they are given. More often than not, teams have all they need to succeed, but for many it is easier to acquire more rather than change how they could use their existing resources differently. One hallmark of good leaders is that they get results in spite of budget, equipment, or facilities shortcomings.