CWB Senior Scholar Dr. Steve Gladis’ Latest Book Describes New Leadership Pyramid Model to Help Organizations Develop Successful Teams

by Whitney Hopler, Communications Director

CWB Senior Scholar Dr. Steve Gladis’ Latest Book Describes New Leadership Pyramid Model to Help Organizations Develop Successful Teams

In their new book Leading Teams: Understanding the Team Leadership Pyramid, CWB Senior Scholar Steve Gladis, Ph.D., CEO of Steve Gladis Leadership Partners, and Kimberly Gladis, CEO of the strategy-to-execution firm the CorePerformX Advisory Group, have used the latest research on teams to construct a new leadership model to help organizations develop thriving and successful teams. Their model, The Team Leadership Pyramid, consists of four critical elements: People, Leader, Culture, and Strategy.

Leading Teams: Understanding the Team Leadership Pyramid also highlights six conditions required for high-performing teams, and the new Team Diagnostic Survey (TDS™) developed at Harvard University by Richard Hackman and Ruth Wageman. Their survey results show leaders a team’s essential conditions (real team, right people, and compelling purpose) and enabling conditions (sound structure, supportive context, and team coaching).

Leading Teams: Understanding the Team Leadership Pyramid is like an owner’s manual for high-performing teams,” Steve Gladis said. “It will help leaders guide themselves and their teams toward success based on years of research and valid and reliable data.”

The following is an excerpt from the book that summarizes one of the pyramid’s elements: the qualities of successful leaders.

First, we need leaders. No leader, no team. Teams don’t magically form or stay together without leadership. Groups can be mandated, but that doesn’t mean they’ll work like interdependent teams. Groups are gatherings of people who resemble kids in parallel play—each doing their own thing. They are only thinly connected, but neither align with nor take advantage of the team’s diversity or experience. It takes leaders to turn groups into teams. The essence of leadership is trust. Without trust, leaders only possess positional authority. Without trust, one is a leader in name only. We’ve all seen this kind of positional leader in action, whose team members only do what’s required and never go above and beyond. At best, untrusted leaders craft teams that only make incremental microprogress—if any at all.

However, if you want team members who are “all-in” all the time, you need personal leadership—trust that comes from three places based on research: character, competence, and compassion. Let’s examine these three trusted-leader traits. First, character sits at the base of this pyramid because it’s fundamental. If there is no respect for a leader’s character, then leadership engagement is over. 


Trusted leaders possess the basic elements of good character—candor, communication, commitment, consistency, and courage.

  • Candor—They are honest with themselves and others.
  • Communication—They speak, write, and listen well.
  • Commitment—They are dedicated to their teams and the organization.
  • Consistency—They are stable, showing up the same way, day after day.
  • Courage—They have the ability to speak truth to power when necessary.


People will follow a leader who has both personal and professional knowledge and experience. Great leaders 1) are self-aware, 2) understand and respect differences in others, and 3) know their profession. They know how to learn, adapt, and survive in their professions. They also know how to teach, coach, and mentor others.


Finally, trusted leaders are compassionate. They are compassionate with themselves and others, not just feeling others’ emotions but engaging with them. They’re also compassionate with their companies, their communities, and their country. They care and do something about them all. They help, volunteer, run for office, and are the lifeblood of their communities.