We have spent many years working with senior teams of different shapes and sizes from across sectors and cultures. The effectiveness of the senior team, both as a team and in terms of its collective leadership, is a fundamental driver of the organisation’s performance. Put differently, the top team creates the culture through how its members operate together.
All too often over the last 25 years, we have engaged with CEOs two-years into their tenure when not everything is on as even a keel as they would like and they express regret that they didn’t expend sufficient effort in creating their team. and establishing its direction in a collaborative and collegiate manner. Conversely, those CEOs who are enjoying success say the paramount cause is sorting the team out early in their tenure.
For newly appointed managers whether at the level of team leader or chief executive, the recruitment and development of their team is without doubt their highest priority.
Team dynamics are complex but one certainty is that an effective team does not constitute a group of identical individuals. A successful football team is not made up of eleven strikers or, if you prefer the American version, eleven quarter-backs. A high performing team will comprise a range of different people undertaking different responsibilities. Each responsibility by itself will not permit the organisation to make its vision reality. Combined, however, such aspirations become attainable.
In its broadest sense, diversity brings its own challenges because unless people appreciate the causal reasons underpinning their different behavioural styles and approaches to doing things, conflict can arise that causes disputes and results in performance suffering.
Once these differences and, of course, similarities are understood and appreciated, the team can turn diversity to their advantage and make it an asset. Furthermore, teams can appreciate where there are gaps that must be closed through development or additions. Too many teams we encounter do not possess the data needed to make these decisions.
Overall, our interventions in this space concern providing the team with a valid and purposeful audit of what each participant brings to the table. This, together with a development process, enables the team to recognise and harness its collective abilities so it is better placed to achieve its goals.