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!
You may ask, so what? Well, 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).
In today’s world of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) and a need to get more done with less, leaders need to collaborate purposefully more so than ever before. Hence, there is a strong need to break away from silos to operate more cohesively as a team with clarity and unity. This involves leaders devoting way more energy, passion and time to their role as a member of the LT, and/or getting a bigger return on their existing investment of time and energy.
So where does one start? To get moving, I propose the following three critical moves:
1. Schedule focussed time
Becoming a cohesive team doesn’t just happen by accident – instead, it requires deliberate reflection, bold decisions and continual conditioning/muscle building. All of this requires scheduling blocks of time away together from the hustle and bustle of business as usual (BAU) time!
2. Get leverage
Becoming a stronger team requires the LT to first get united around answering the critical question of “Why change?”.
This requires candid and deep LT conversations that can move the need-for-change-dial from “nice to change” into the “must change” category.
Getting this leverage is critical because of the need to counter against the likely objections of:
- Time : I don’t have the time for this
- Value : I can’t see the cost-benefit/value in investing more time together
- Trust/Control : I can’t fully trust the team I lead/The team I lead needs majority of my time
To not only get leverage, but to also create momentum, the LT must get aligned around “big” questions such as:
- Business Context/Drivers : Why does our function/business exist? What must we achieve as a function/business? What is our game plan/strategy to achieve our most important goals?
- LT Purpose : What is the purpose of our LT? Why do we get together? What should be our focus?
- LT Collective Work : What is the work that only we can do and no one else? What are the most important deliverables of our LT?
- LT Meetings Architecture : To fulfil our team purpose, what should be our meetings architecture?
- LT Rules of Play (ROP) : To operate as a high performing team, what rules of play should we sign up to?
3. Decide, Commit and Schedule
Words are cheap and action is everything. So to get moving, the LT needs to be aligned on:
- What are we deciding?
- What are the immediate next steps?
- Who will do what and by when?
A final point – becoming a strong and cohesive team is a marathon and not a sprint. So be careful to not judge too soon.