Creating A Cohesive Leadership Team

When I speak to CEOs and other top leaders, I’ll often hear one of the following comments:

“My leadership team is new. We have a lot to accomplish together, but we’ve not yet come together as a cohesive unit.
“I’ve an established group of high-performing functional managers, but they are not a high-performing team of cross-functional business leaders.”

And yet - no organisation can be healthier than its #1 team.

Any misalignment or leadership gap in the top team will propagate across the entire organisation, which means that it’s essential to get the leadership team working well together.

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Indeed, in Season 3 of The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast, I explored many of the frustrations I hear from CEOs and other senior execs about their leadership teams, including:

  • “There’s not enough ownership”
  • “Everyone’s focused on their functional silos”
  • “We’re not having the bold conversations”
  • “20% of people dominate 80% of airtime"
  • “Our leadership team meetings are ‘meh’”
  • “Nothing happens after our off-sites”
  • "We spend too much time on operational topics"

You can surely add your own issues to the list.

But to make real progress with your team, we’ve got to go beyond symptoms. Instead, we’ll need to explore what keeps teams stuck at a certain plateau, and understand how we can break them out of that holding pattern to make real gains.

In short, we’ll seek to answer the question:

“How, practically, can we build a truly cohesive and aligned management team who trust each other and who can lead the business at a whole new level?”

This is exactly what we’ve cover in this short series of five emails, entitled “Creating A Cohesive Leadership Team” (CCLT).

The approaches here will apply to you whether you have a brand new team that you want to bring together into an effective unit, or a more longstanding team that has the opportunity to break out of certain patterns and lead at a higher level.

Magic bullets miss the mark

Over the years I’ve coached many leadership teams running complex, tech-driven businesses.

I’ve discovered that many teams have been led astray by legacy team-building techniques that don’t actually address the intersection between the team’s development needs on one hand, and the essential business challenges on the other.

Indeed, there’s often a desire a rush to a bunch of typical responses:

  • Do everyone’s personality test. This can have value for sure, but it can feel like a ‘nice-to-have’ and very disconnected from the real business decisions facing the team.
  • Hold an offsite. This again isn’t a bad idea, and people can leave motivated, but often there isn’t much of plan to sustain and build on the progress that’s made.
  • Come up with an aspirational list of team values or a team charter. Nothing wrong with that, but how to actually live that out in a way that makes a difference?
  • Opt for a step-by-step programme or formula. Do some Agile Training, or have a training day on a framework such as the Five Dysfunctions Of A Team. Again, this has some value, but often the programme isn’t exactly addressing the real challenge facing the team.

None of these are bad, but it’s rare for any of these to make the difference we hope for with our team. There’s perhaps a spike of motivation and clarity, but it’s all too easy for the benefits to be short-lived.

The problem is that “magic bullets” tend to reflect an oversimplified view of how teams work, and they tend to be processes “done to the team” without much buy-in to the process.

And so the results are often disappointing.

Where are the meta conversations?

Many leadership teams are relentlessly task- and execution- orientated. They’re focused on the “what” of the business - which creates a certain level of result.

However, there’s often very little sustained conversation about the “how” - the way the team operates together and how that might need to evolve in anticipation of the changing needs of the business.

The reality is that what happens on the task/tactical level is really the outcome of what happens at the level of mutual trust, shared purpose, collaborative process, and team identity.

Because most teams are not really engaging in high-quality “meta” conversations about the collaboration and leadership the wider business requires of them, they’re not really making gains at these foundational layers.

And that is limiting their ability to deliver a new level of results.

As I like to say to team leaders: you’ve purchased the expensive Ferrari, but you’ve forgotten to tune it up, or add the oil. A few minor tweaks will create a real gain in performance.

Introducing our free email series on ‘Creating A Cohesive Leadership Team’

This short email series will give you:

  • A new sense of clarity around the high-value conversations that your team needs to have;
  • A roadmap to focus on the critical few things that will create a new level of team cohesion and effectiveness; and
  • A process for how to engage the team (and sustain their attention!), drawing them forward instead of pushing them along.

It’s for you if you have responsibility for a team charged with organisational leadership - management committee, executive board, or business unit leadership for example,

One or two insights can change everything - and any improvement in your leadership team will ripple out across the organisation with astonishing results.

Enjoy!

There's no charge for this. Your attention is the only currency I require. Over to you.

If you want to come on this 5-email journey on Creating a Cohesive Leadership Team, click the red button below, then enter your best email address.


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