Why Do Senior Executives Often Make Lousy Team Leaders? (PART ONE)

From my experience and observations over many years of working with executive teams, I will admit that being a leader of a senior executive team is not easy. You have a bunch of high strung thoroughbreds snorting and pawing to run their own individual races and when the bell rings you are often saddled with nothing but dust and commotion when it comes to sharing the leadership of the enterprise.  Executive teams more often than not spin their wheels and appear to be dysfunctional, a condition that is entirely avoidable.  However, I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard an executive team leader, CEO or otherwise, bemoan the state of their ‘dysfunctional’ team and where my diagnosis reveals that their ineffective team leadership is one of the key issues.

 One executive leader called me in to discuss his dissatisfaction regarding his team’s effectiveness and lack of “team playing”. In fact, he was considering making some significant team membership changes because of this. Surprising to me, he was puzzled when I asked him if there were any ground rules and high performance team principles that the team had understood and agreed to as an enterprise team, something I consider team 101.  He said, “No…they would think that this was below them at their level”!  While executive team members most likely know their accountabilities related to the function or business they run, the additional expectations as enterprise leaders may be very ambiguous and even conflicting to them.  A common misguided assumption is, “Hey they are smart people – they should be able to figure it out”.  WRONG.

 Why do executive team leaders often think that well known principles and practices that govern the development of high performing teams lower down in the organization don’t apply to their executive team? 

Stay tuned to my future blogs on this topic of achieving executive team mastery and high performance. Any thoughts or reactions?

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