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

As I alluded to in part one of this topic it is imperative that executive team leaders develop a set of expectations for their team members, no matter how senior.  Ideally they should do it in a way that involves the team members themselves so they are co-created for shared commitment and understanding.  Any effective senior team that I have been involved with has a short set of clearly understood operating principles for how members are expected to operate and behave…. and also hold each other accountable to exhibit – the latter being the real test.  Some principles are as mundane as “Meeting agendas are to be sent out ahead of time with desired outcomes for each topic” or “All material to be reviewed must be circulated  and read in advance of the meeting ” or “Respond within one day of team member’s request”.

 However others are more behavioural such as “A decision is a decision not to be reopened” or “We speak with one voice and one team outside our meetings”.  Still others dial it up behaviourally such as “Transparency versus hidden agendas” or “Call each other out for transgressions to team principles”.  You can look at these examples and say ho-hum – we know these…and to some degree I would agree.  However, it isn’t the phrases that mean as much as how your team members understand them and, most importantly, how they are integrated into everyday executive interaction to become team norms…..and this is your job as the executive team leader in two ways. 

  1. If you don’t role model the expectations yourself, don’t even bother having them.  As smart and senior as your team members are they will still continue to take their cues from you. You will get what you model. 
  2. If transgressions of the expectations go unchallenged by you or fellow team members, that communicates the acceptable standard related to that expectation -which then determines the norms.  High performance teams have clearly articulated and understood high performance standards and are led by high performance executive team leaders – hopefully you!

My next blog will explore the essence of defining the unique and differentiated role of the CEO and his/her executive team.

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