The success or failure of a leadership team always affects the entire organization. When the leadership is functioning at its best, the good vibes trickle down the management structure right up to the frontline employees. However, when the leadership team is divided or unsure about the direction of the company, then the employees at the lowest level of the company will lose morale, be disengaged and turnover will be high.
It is therefore important for you to constantly improve as a leadership team in the four broad areas discussed below. Seek the services of a good coach if you are finding it hard to build a great leadership team at your company.
Your employees look to the leadership team for direction. The future of the company depends on how well the leadership team understands the direction of the company and steers it correctly over the different challenges that may stand in the way of reaching the desired goals.
One of the most important attributes of a great leadership team is therefore its ability to think strategically. To do this, topnotch analytical skills are needed so that the leaders can make a correct assessment of where the company is at the moment, and then plan what needs to be done to take the company where it needs to be.
The leadership team should also be futuristic in outlook rather than being swallowed up in the day-to-day tasks at the company. If you want to know how important being futuristic is, think about the one-time leading cellphone maker Nokia. The company’s fall from grace can be summed up as a failure to look into the future and adapt to the direction in which the telecommunication industry was going.
A former top executive at the company is reported to have said, “We failed not because we did anything wrong but because we didn’t change with the times.” So, a great leadership team is futuristic and guides the company towards the future which they have seen even before others consider such a future as a real possibility.
It goes without saying that if the team is to think strategically, then everyone on that team needs to be a lifelong learner. What matters isn’t what each of them knows (because that could already be obsolete) but rather how quickly they can learn new ways of thinking, new ways of getting work done and new ways of serving customers better.
A great leadership team is also identified by the success it achieves in building relationships. The implementation of the vision, mission and strategic plan of the company requires the executive team to nurture relationships with their direct reports so that everyone buys into the collective purpose of the organization/company.
Great leaders build relationships by being empathetic, adaptable and having a positive attitude, among other attributes. For example, some degree of resistance is to be expected each time something new (a new technology, for example) is to be integrated in the company.
Great leaders are empathetic and understand why such resistance exists, so they take steps to help their teams through the transition. This can be through organizing training events to acquaint the employees with the new technology and show how work will get easier for each employee once they start using the new technology.
A leadership team without empathy may take the resistance as challenge to their authority, so the executives can react by handing out warning letters or even firing some employees. Needless to say, such an approach is a quick way to throw the unity of the organization out of whack.
By now, you may be catching on that most of the attributes of great leadership teams are interconnected. In this case, it isn’t easy to make employees buy into the vision of the organization if you aren’t a good influencer. Building relationships also requires one to have influence.
One of the best ways to exert your influence over the team you lead is by developing your communication skills so that you all move in the same direction without any coercion. For example, team meetings shouldn’t just be about castigating those who haven’t hit their targets. Such meetings can be avenues through which help is offered to those who are struggling so that they start believing that everyone looks out for the success of the others. One for all, and all for one. That is how great teams are built.
You also need to take command of situations, be competitive (always striving to get the best from everyone) and be known as a maximizer who looks for ways to get full value from the resources available.
The fourth broad area that distinguishes great leadership teams from others is how good the team is at executing its mandate. A strategic plan is only worth the paper it is written on if it is implemented. Weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual reports are only useful if the data they avail is acted upon.
Your executive team should take responsibility, be consistent, have a belief in the purpose of the company and be driven to take the steps necessary to achieve the goals of the organization.
Think about a company that is about to launch a new product. If one of the departments feels that such an undertaking only affects the R&D team and the marketing department, then success will elude the company. Everyone has a part to play, and their responsibility goes beyond their immediate roles in their departments. Great leadership teams manage to instill this level of cohesiveness in the execution of the mission of the company.
Every leadership team has a segment of the four areas above that would do with some improvement. Many times, the Achilles’ heel isn’t immediately apparent to the members of the executive team, and that is where the help of an executive coach comes in.
Investing in a good coach is always a worthwhile undertaking because it creates teams whose sum is far superior to the individuals who constitute the team due to the synergy generated. So, take your time, do your homework and find a coach who will take your leadership team to levels of greatness which you hadn’t imagined exist!
To Your Success,
Jairek Robbins & Team PCU
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