The effectiveness of the executive team will make or break a business. This is particularly true during times of intense competition and organizational transformation. No business leader can afford to have an executive team that is misfiring or functioning at sub-optimal effectiveness.
Executive team effectiveness is no longer just about “team spirit” and how well team members get along with each other. Yes, these are important conditions, but they are almost always the result of specific team leadership drivers that are measurable and manageable.
From extensive hands-on experience developing executive teams, Dr. Robert Wiley has identified three major drivers of executive team effectiveness and business results:
Leadership teams can’t even begin their journey to be effective unless they are on the same page about their vision, direction and targeted results, are clear with each other about who has what role for shared decisions, and have the right talent in each role. When leadership teams are formed or reconstituted, these are the first things to get right. When a leadership team is having some difficulty delivering high performance, a team foundation issue is likely to be a root cause.
Once the team foundation is in place, a leadership team must develop specific collaboration processes in order to get their work done. This starts with a well-designed management process and meeting calendar that is needed to work through the team’s shared business issues and decisions throughout the year. This will include how and when the team will focus its time on key topics, along with how decisions will be made in different areas. To collaborate well on their shared work, leadership teams also need to engage in constructive debate of key issues and build 1:1 trust based on mutual understanding.
The true test of a leadership team is how well they are jointly engaging their broader organization to achieve the expected business results. The first key to this is a communication process whereby the team jointly provides timely, consistent information and direction to the broader organization. The second key is how well the leadership team members foster and lead collaboration across units and functions to improve business processes and achieve targeted business results.
Dr. Robert Wiley uses state-of-the-art tools and a tested process that is tailored to the needs and culture of each leadership team. The process generally includes three key steps as described below. The initial assessment of team effectiveness and action planning can usually be completed within about two months. At that point, the team leader is in a good position to decide what work to undertake to close high priority team effectiveness gaps and what resources will be used. Coaching the team leader and facilitating joint team development sessions are done where needed. The team leader and team members are encouraged to take charge of closing team effectiveness gaps with specific action plans. The goal is to see a leadership team emerge into a high performance mode as quickly and independently as possible.