Most members of Senior Leadership teams have at least two roles:
- as the leader of the team they are officially in charge of
- as a member of the Leadership Team (LT) itself
In theory, leaders resonate with the need to play multiple roles. However, in practice, their role as a member of the LT is a poor cousin – and typically gets less than 5-10% of their focus, time and energy. And often this is channelled through boring and unproductive team meetings!
The net result is that most LT’s end up operating largely as a collection of silos. They fail to fully tap into their collective potential and genius and as such never end-up becoming a powerfully cohesive team…in the truest sense of what a team is (as opposed to just a collection of executives with a common boss).
To overcome the limitations of the above operating default and breakthrough to new ways of thinking, being and doing, I frequently challenge teams with two key questions. One of these questions is addressed to the team members (excluding the leader), and one is addressed to the leader itself.
The Team Question
To think and act differently, the most important question the team must ask and act on is:
“How can we make the leader redundant (not literally!)… i.e. step up more as a collective team…to take greater ownership and accountability for running the business function?”
To help generate ideas to the above question, some further questions for the team to explore include:
- What can we do more as a team that we are currently not doing?
- How can we demonstrate that we can be trusted as a collective?
- How can we take more initiative for driving our collective business?
- Where are we over relying on the leader to provide answers and/or direction?
- How do we manage our leader…to leverage their strengths and make their weakness irrelevant?
- Where can we be bolder as a team?
- What are we currently tolerating, that we shouldn’t?
- If we had our leaders’ job, what would we be doing differently, that we don’t see happening at the moment?
The Leader Question
To think and act differently, the most important question the leader must ask and act on is:
“How do I let go…and create the space and conditions for the team to step-up as a collective?”
To help generate ideas to the above question, some further questions for the leader to explore include:
- All things considered, what needs to be my highest priorities?
- How do I become more comfortable with uncertainty? What might get better if I was less controlling and/or driving?
- How can I get even more comfortable knowing that I don’t need to have all the answers?
- What am I currently doing that I don’t like doing AND shouldn’t be doing?
- If I asked my team “what shouldn’t I be doing?” what would they say?
- How might my leadership style be getting in the way of leveraging the collective team voice and potential?
- What conditions need to exist for us to be more successful? What systems are required to create these conditions? How can I help establish these systems?
- What symbols can I implement that would empower the team even more?
- How can I be less hands-on in doing the problem solving, but more hands-on in creating the conditions for high performance and high engagement?
In conclusion, whilst the above may be simple in theory, it is not necessarily easy to implement! However, for leaders and team that can make this transition, the rewards are definitely worth it.