Creating the Best Executive Team
Executive leaders provide the strategic leadership for a team or organization. These leaders establish goals for the organization and ensure that strategies to reach the goals are executed with quality and fidelity. For the organization to be successful, all members of the executive team should possess the characteristics of high performing leaders.
- Relentless focus on goals and the achievement of those goals.This requires a leader to wake up each day thinking about what he/she and the team could do better to achieve or surpass goals.
- Role model desired behaviors.Everyone watches the executive leaders to determine if they mean what they say and say what they mean.
- Guide teams to be successful. Individuals do not achieve goals; teams do.
- Want to be held accountable for specified outcomes and measures.When the goal and the measure are clear, the leader can be counted on to accomplish the goal.
What if executive teams don’t exhibit these characteristics or fail to follow the agreed strategic direction of the organization? If a required action is communicated throughout the organization and it is apparent that an executive team member is only providing lip service toward adhering, a message is sent that the action is not that important. Why would anyone else feel the necessity to adhere to the action? The executive team leads the way in every initiative, goal, strategic action, and required behavior. The behavior of the executive team should demonstrate that relentless focus on performance and goal achievement, as well as role model the characteristics of high performing teams.
SETTING THE COURSE & THE CULTURE
Culture trumps strategy every time. Culture plus strategy is unstoppable. The behavior of the executive team determines the culture of the organization. The culture of the organization influences the performance of the organization. It is essential that the executive team leads the way to improvement and to results.
There is increasing focus in the literature about low performing executive teams and individual members. Is the work too hard or do team members not believe in the direction of the organization? Neither can be tolerated if progress is to be made by the organization and if intended outcomes are to be achieved. All executive team members of high performing organizations know the strategic direction and are “relentlessly focused” on that direction each day. It is expected.
Getting to this common focus takes work and consensus building around the future direction of the organization, with the executive leader at the helm. If executive team members cannot get on board, they need to leave the boat. The executive team is responsible for consistently modeling the way to increased results.
DEVELOPING THE BEST TRAITS
The executive team focuses on developing and executing the strategic direction of the organization. These team members use trends and knowledge of the industry to look into the future. The team determines risk and innovation, based on knowledge and data. The executive team prepares the organization for the future in a very proactive way. The diversity of thought and experience in the executive team supports a more robust assessment of future needs and vision for the next phase of the organization.
To be able to do future planning while executing strategic actions to achieve goal, the team must trust one another and listen to one another as well as communicate with transparency. Collaboration and cooperation are evident in a high functioning team. Team members appreciate and value each other and the expertise that each brings to the table. To some degree, the executive leader must develop the team to exhibit these traits. The degree to which this development occurs will, to a large extent, determine success.
Another trait of executive team members that is sometimes overlooked is an enterprise view of the world. Taking time to consider what is in the best interest of the organization, not what is in the best interest of my team or me as an individual, requires maturity and discipline.
Developing a high performing executive team is intentional, focused work that will support overall higher organizational performance.
5 steps to developing the best executive team
Know your team members.
- What are their strengths and where should they develop?
- Help each member accentuate their strength while maturing and improving other needed traits.
Understand what is needed and agree on the direction as a team.
- Decide on actions to be taken and the responsibility of each executive team member.
Never be satisfied with where you are.
- Truly embrace a growth mindset for leading for improved outcomes.
Set ground rules for how the team will function together, communicate, and interact.
- Diversity of thought is needed, and the team must agree on some basics for discussing, defining, and arriving at a consensus.
Develop a plan for cascading communication from the executive team through the rest of the organization.
- This is not a secret society and there should be transparency in the process of decision making and problem solving.