Characteristics of Great Leadership Teams
"Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people."
– Steve Jobs
"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself"
– Henry Ford
Great leadership teams have impact way beyond the contributions of individual team members. They have a cascading effect throughout an organization by reinforcing the behaviors and approaches that are required to realize the organization’s objectives.
Force Multiplier questions:
- Are we clear on the behaviors we are trying to reinforce or do we simply have a list of aspirational values – i.e., if collaboration is a value have we agreed on what behaviors will reinforce or detract from collaboration?
- Have we discussed and resolved the natural dilemma all leadership team members face – balancing leading functional units with their roles as ambassadors for the enterprise?
- Is each member of the leadership team fully engaged?
"Teamwork is the beauty of our sport, where you have five acting as one."
– Mike Krzyzewski
Great leadership teams are in sync on the organization’s strategic direction, how the organization will execute to achieve the direction, and the behaviors required to maintain the direction. They understand that their level of alignment is directly proportional to the organization’s level of alignment.
What’s our purpose as a leadership team? What unique challenges are we working to solve as a collective body?
Do we have the right people on the team? Are they team players? Are they on the team because of the contribution they can make to address the purpose or simply because of their functional role?
Does our management rhythm support our team’s purpose?
"I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion."
– Mia Hamm
Great leadership teams are laser focused on their most important priorities; they debate productively and hold each other accountable for results. Team members take time to build trust so that they can have unfiltered discussions and are able to share their fears and weaknesses and learn from each other. Great Teams manage conflict productively and are able to challenge and debate important issues without defensiveness or fear of retribution.
- Are we waiting for the leader to hold us accountable?
- Are team members comfortable giving and receiving feedback?
- Are we clear on our most important priorities and who is responsible for what?
- Have we spent time getting to know each other’s styles, perspectives and experiences?
"I've failed over and over again - and that is why I succeed."
– Michael Jordan
No team is perfect and no team is 100 percent aligned all of the time but great leadership teams have confidence in their ability to get back in sync after inevitable periods of dysfunction. Great leadership teams do the hard work necessary to structure the leadership team effectively and build effective relationships with their teammates so that they don’t let trivial or relatively unimportant issues get in the way of refocusing and committing to be great.
- Do we measure progress and communicate effectively so that we know when challenges are approaching?
- Do we rally when challenges approach? Are we proactively looking to support our teammates when we see them falling behind or struggling?
- Do we take time to assess and learn from our failures or do we tend to repeat mistakes?
- Building a leadership team that is resilient, accountable, aligned and impactful is hard work but the benefits can be a game changer for an organization.