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Taking Cohesion to the Next Level (Shared Accountability)

Most leadership teams are so focused on the pressures of “doing” that they rarely reflect on or take time to focus on their way of “being” together. This is a huge mistake.

Our way of being significantly influences the quality and efficiency of our doing. Doing is a function of being. Not the other way round. Enlightened CEOs know this. That is why they pay just as much attention to process as action.

The process of building mutual accountability should begin with the leadership team. The leadership team is a cultural fractal of the whole organisation. If you don’t have internal cohesion in the leadership team you will not have internal cohesion in the rest of the organisation.

The only way to build internal cohesion and mutual accountability in a leadership team is to create a climate of trust. This requires that the leaders and team members spend quality time together getting to know each other at more than a superficial level.

One way of building and sustaining an internally cohesive leadership team is to create a State of Grace Document. One of the most important benefits of the State of Grace Document is that it gives every member of the team, and most importantly the team leader, a degree of relationship trust that encourages direct, open conversations, and the permission to say to a colleague, “For some reason, which I am not sure about, things feel a little off kilter with us right now. Can you tell me what is going on? What needs do you have that are not being met?”

The expectations and agreements contained in the document enable the team to:

  • Design how they want to be and act in their business relationship
  • Face conflict head-on in an open and mature manner
  • Make sure that there are no “elephants” in the room that are not being addressed.

The premise behind the State of Grace Document is that the team is involved in a collective enterprise that is much bigger than any single team member, and that in order to make this endeavour a success team members need to get passed their own narrow self-interests and unmet deficiency needs so that the team as a whole can focus on the common good. To achieve this common purpose the whole team needs be committed to exploring and improving their self-leadership skills.

There are three stages in creating a State of Grace document for a leadership team.

Stage 1 involves every team member carrying out an Leadership Values Assessment (LVA), and receiving an individual two or three-hour coaching session based on the feedback contained in the LVA. At the end of this session, each team member develops a personal action plan to address their personal mastery issues.

Stage 2 involves the leaders and leadership team members meeting together in a two-day, off-site workshop. The focus of this workshop is on personal alignment through personal mastery—self-knowledge, self-awareness, self-responsibility, and self-management. The exercises in the workshop are designed to support the team members in creating their personal State of Grace Document (Story of Me). Once complete, every team member’s Story of Me document is circulated to the other members of the team at least one-week before Stage 3 of the internal cohesion programme.

Stage 3 involves team members attending a second two-day, off-site workshop, usually held about three-to-four weeks after the first workshop. The focus of the second workshop is on building the internal cohesion of the leadership team through values alignment and mission alignment. The exercises in this workshop are designed to support the team in building a climate of mutual trust and creating a collective State of Grace Document entitled the “Story of Us.”


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