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

As a CEO or senior executive team leader do you really know what the real purpose is of your executive team? More importantly, do you understand its unique value added role within the enterprise? 

If I ask a member of your team what the team purpose is I suspect I might get an answer such as, “We are here to implement and achieve our strategy” or “We are here to transform our organization”.  Obviously both answers would have some specifics about the strategy or organization transformation.  However, the answers would most likely equate the top team’s purpose with that of the broader organization and, while accurate, it stops short of identifying the UNIQUE and VALUE ADDING purpose and role of your top team. 

Being the most senior team in the enterprise comes with certain areas that only this team can own.  It constitutes real work that can’t be delegated to others and provides real value to the success of the enterprise.  Defining these areas begins to clarify your senior team’s unique purpose and dramatically increases the level of engagement, mutual accountability, collaboration and shared commitment amongst the executive team members.  Instead of just believing they are just coming to “another meeting” that is seen as interfering with “my real job which is to run my business or function” – instead, they are coming to do real meaningful work together that only THEIR SENIOR TEAM can do.  I will give you an example of what one CEO of a large North American organization did in this regard.

 He called a two-day executive team retreat meeting with the expressed purpose of having his team members raise the level of their contribution from being cooperative individual contributors, which they were, to collaborative partners sharing the corporate leadership with him.  He asked me to help design and facilitate this meeting.  Working as collaborative partners meant defining what the unique value adding work was for the extremely busy executive team members.  Through some analysis and dialogue we arrived at three very key areas of real and unique value added work for the team; namely drive innovation across the enterprise, build a top talent pipeline and increase a longer term strategic focus on customers and markets.  Implementing these items has meant overhauling the agenda of the CEO’s meetings and more importantly clustering the executives in small sub-teams to own, do real work together and implement various initiatives that exist outside their respective business or function. 

 Want to build your executive team? Then have them roll up their sleeves and do some real work together versus simply discuss, decide and delegate.  A top team won’t build itself into high performance – it needs proactive leadership.

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