In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins stresses that a new leader should first focus on Who, and then on What—getting the right people in the right places on the leadership team, and when the people are in place, then deciding what you are going to do. This is good advice. You need people you can work with and trust in your leadership team.
The two things that make leadership teams ineffective are lack of trust and ego-driven personalities. To create a highly aligned successful organisation, you need to have a highly aligned leadership team. The members of your leadership team should be:
These are people who are ambitious for the organisation, but not for themselves. They know that their future is intimately linked to the organisation’s future and their ability to empower and support their staff in finding fulfilment.
You want people in your leadership team who are experienced in their fields and have made the shift from “I” to “We”: Self-actualized individuals who realise their self-interest is wrapped up in the good of the whole. Furthermore, you want people who are intent on becoming the best for the world, not the best in the world.
I would also stress the importance of finding people who operate with self-transforming minds. You don’t want people who filter every discussion through their perspective so they can prove that their way is the right way. You want people who can objectively examine other people’s ideas alongside their own, and seek to drive to a decision that is right for the whole organisation.
In addition to all the above factors you will need to create a leadership team that is well-balanced with regard to the four most important domains of leadership strength.
Four decades of research by Gallup involving 20,000 in-depth interviews with senior leaders, studies of more than one million work teams, and 50 years of Gallup Polls about the world’s most admired leaders, have show that great leadership teams possess four domains of strength:
If you want to check out how well your leadership team meets these requirements you can have your team complete the StrengthFinder programme.
Other important findings from this research indicate that the most effective leaders:
Ultimately, the effectiveness of any team is always judged by results they achieve. Establishing trust is just the first hurdle in building an effective team. Without trust, team members will be reticent in speaking openly. Trust helps them to have the courage to say exactly what is on their minds.
The second hurdle team members have to overcome, to be effective as a team, is their fear of conflict.
Some people find it difficult to declare that they hold an opposing point to other more “powerful” members of the team: So, they keep quiet, and nod acquiescently, without any real sense of commitment. In the following section, I describe three methods or processes for overcoming such fears, so that everyone in the team can openly express their opinions.
The third hurdle team members have to overcome is a lack of team commitment.
Leadership teams are only effective when they speak with one voice, have the same goals, and pursue those goals with equal vigour. Without unanimity and accord, the focus of their efforts will be diluted, and the team will not achieve its goals.
For a team to achieve its goals there must be collective accountability. Without collective accountability, the team will only focus on the results they can personally achieve. They will be more focused on their own self-interest and massaging their egos than aligning themselves with the team’s soul. There can be no internal cohesion without collective accountability. There is no room for ego machinations such as empire building, internal competition, and political manoeuvrings in an effective leadership team.
Chapter 20: Internal Cohesion in Organisations