How strong are your leadership teams? How would you know? In today’s tough economic and completive climate, can you afford to have anything less than great teams at the top?
Leadership team health and efficacy is an important determining factor of a company’s success or failure. A great senior team will make better decisions and generate more ideas for moving an organization forward. A cohesive group of executives will better handle difficult business situations, when making the right decisions is critical.
A healthy leadership team is a group of individuals. Each member brings his or her talents, strengths, and passions to the team. A diversity of thought and independent thinking is healthy. You want lively debate and a variety of perspectives. At each staff meeting, you should feel like important business issues are being fully explored and that the conversation is open and candid. As an executive, it is important to be great on an individual basis AND as a team member. In fact, what you do as a group may be more important than what you do as individuals. The overall effectiveness of your leadership team will impact results, stakeholder perception, and leader retention. Here are six things all senior teams ought to be concerned with:
- How they measure and improve their productivity
- How they define and deliver excellence
- How they build strong partnerships
- How they build a strong culture
- How they drive things forward during meetings
- How they develop together
How to Assess Leadership Team Health:
How do you know if your leadership team is in tip top shape? Some indications will be obvious by observing how the team members interact and the extent to which they collaborate. Here is a set of ideal goals that will help you assess your leadership team’s overall strengths and weaknesses. Does your team exhibit these indicators of a healthy leadership team?
- Each team member is committed to the success of each other member.
- Each team member is comfortable having other team members represent her/him.
- Team members share a fundamental good will toward each other.
- Team members feel a good will toward the company.
- Team members don’t stand by and watch another members make major mistakes.
- Team members feel able to influence each other.
- Each team member is willing to be influenced by other team members.
- Leadership changes with the subject.
- Each team member believes that winning as a team is more important than personal or functional wins.
- The organizational vision is known and shared.
- Business objectives are clearly defined.
- The “model” of high performance is known and shared.
- Standards are high in all functions and reflected in selection, placement, and promotions. Team members hold each other to these high standards.
- Team members insist on appropriate peer level and upward coaching.
- Team members feel a responsibility to express individual opinions, concerns, and ideas. Together, team members expect and support lively dialogue.
- Team members understand and embrace their overarching role as guardian of long-term corporate interests.
We have assessed several senior teams based on these criteria and have seen the correlation between team strength and results. Here are a few suggestions for ways to improve senior team effectiveness:
- Improve your team dialogue. Assess meeting quality, frequency, and purpose. Re-invent staff meetings to be collaboration meetings. Know the difference between inclusion and collaboration and spend time working together – co-owning and co-creating.
- Commit to and follow-through on periodic leadership team development. Four hours of development per quarter can make a significant difference in how well executives work together.
- Take the initiative to be a model team member. Engage your peers more fully and be trustworthy and reliable. Be a great partner – someone who is a pleasure with which to do business.
- Only hire “rock stars!” When hiring new leaders, it is not enough to select someone who will be a great fit for the function. He or she should also be able to add to the skills, talents, and efficacy of the leadership team with which he or she will belong.
- Focus on ensuring that the organizational vision is known and shared and that business objectives are clearly defined. Practice ways to operationalize the preferred future so that it gets beyond rhetoric and shows up in your daily practices.
- Define and communicate a desired culture and managerial excellence. Let people know (and this will reinforce your alignment) the goals they ought to be shooting for in terms of how work gets done.
- Create and use a leadership filter that helps you and your team make decisions aligned with your intentions and goals.
Is your organization growing or preparing to grow or downsize? Are you facing hard times? Are things getting a bit too comfortable and routine? These are all excellent opportunities to evaluate and develop your leadership team. With the right team in place, doing the right work together, your organization will have its best chance at lasting success.