Transcript of A Systems View of Leadership Team Effectiveness

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Today's topic is a systems view of leadership team effectiveness. Just to recap what we started with, the challenge is that teams building a system, putting a leadership team system in place, requires a mindset shift on the part of the team leader and the members of the leadership team. Moving from a group of individuals to a team that operates well together that leveraging each other's capabilities and skills, and that integrates well together is not an easy challenge.

What slide two says here is that building a great team that functions as a system is not an easy construct. Much like a physical system or the human body, the components of leadership team system are influenced by the environment in which they operate and that's kind of an obvious point, but it is, it does influence how the components of the system operate, which we'll get into in a little bit. You know, the environment that we work in, the moving from a toxic environment to a more constructive environment, moving into a situation where we've grown through acquisition. Those environments shifts had an impact on how the team operates obviously, but what we see often is that teams don't necessarily step back and look at how they're structured, how they're set up to deal with that new environment, which can we need to sometimes unintended consequences.

That's the challenge. The next slide, slide three, shows a picture of what we view as the primary components of an effective leadership team's system. There's the formal leadership, and obviously the leader and his or her style, his or her experience has a lot to do with, has some strong influence on how a team operates.

The relational dynamics, I'm not going to go into each one of this structure and relational dynamics because I've done that on many other webinars before. But relational dynamics are, do we have a sense of trust, do we have an ability for the team to interact constructively, debate to challenge their most important issues in a way that pushes the issues forward, and ultimately can a team hold itself accountable. That's how the relational stuff. Then there's structure, the structure. Do we have the right people on the team, do people understand their roles?

Do they know how to integrate together? Do they know what they're supposed to be integrating on together? Do they understand that they play two roles as part of a leadership team, a enterprise, or a cross the organizational role and a functional role? Do they meet well? I know that oftentimes people look at me like, "Well, that's silly," but teams that don't have agendas, and don't keep track of action items and follow up items, tend to get frustrated over time.

These are what we see as the main components of an effective leadership team system. Obviously, all teams have these components and it's how well they work together in relation to, I guess the white space behind this slide, would suggests the environment they operate in. You know, how these dynamics work, how these components work together in the particular environment that your team works in really informs how effective your leadership team system is going to be.

Any questions so far in anything? Please don't hesitate to ask. Okay. Okay. Next slide. Talks a little bit about, you know. We're going to walk through each one of these and some examples of structure and how structure is influenced by former leadership, and the relationship dynamics, and the environment you operate in.

A lot of the small growing companies that we work with typically wind up having some sort of a challenge relationally because of the pace of the change, the pace at which they're growing, and the complexity that increases over time. So in the example here, I just mentioned a fast pace growing organization, everyone's used to rolling up their sleeves. Then you know, you introduced some new process, or a new meeting regimen, or some roles that are more formal than they once were. People sometimes with that, if those roles, and process, and meeting regimen aren't introduced effectively or they go too far, it can force folks to potentially lose some of the autonomy and chip away at trust in the formal leader and their teammates. Right? And so, structure in a growing dynamic can really have some unintended consequences, right? New structure is definitely needed in growing organizations, but sometimes if not introduced well, it can lead to some relational strife. That's an example of what I'm talking about there.

Okay. I have a question here. Okay, so it looks like I didn't send the slides. You guys are hanging in there with me today and I really, really appreciate it. Let me give that one more shot.

You know what, guys? I think as Alan said, I'm going to send these slides out again and I'm just going to talk through here. Again, I apologize, but I'm just going to talk through the slides, because I don't want to waste any more of your time.

Next piece on slide five that I'm talking about is relational dynamics, the second component of it of an effective leadership team system. Relational dynamics obviously can have an impact on the type of structure or the type of leadership that we have, the other two components. So, too much structure too fast can stifle autonomy and lead to relational strife. And the other side of the coin, team members to trust each other and have up strong relational dynamics, a strong sense of trust, a strong ability to interact with each other productively and hold each other accountable, are able to adapt more readily to a changing environment and to any introduction of new structure. They will view the introduction of new structure as, We'll see how it works, and if it doesn't, we'll talk to each other about it."

Then let's then the third component, formal leadership. Leadership, obviously, the style of the leader has an impact on the dynamics, on what type of structures put in place, and then and obviously influences relational dynamics as well. The example we use on this slide is simply a leader with a strong preference for measurement, who has a strong background in measuring performance of individuals and the whole organization and a team has had a good experience with that, but now enters a system, or a new organization where the environment has been toxic before and where there's not great trust.

Introducing new metrics, introducing new ways of how we're going to track how we're doing, if not handled well, can backfire and the people on the team won't trust the metrics because the environment was so toxic before. So instead of introducing in just metrics, we're introducing metrics in a more learning-oriented way.

You get the jet gist of what I'm trying to get at here. The components: formal leadership, relational dynamics, and structure, depending on the type of environment we're working in, have to be adjusted sometimes. And so, the next slide, the top of the slide, it says, team members of systems-focused teams have a few characteristics associated with them.

Number one, they recognize, team members recognize, that the actions they have impact others on the team and impact the system or the team in general. They think through and coordinate together on what are some of the potential unintended consequences from those actions. They embrace differences, and are curious about differences, and work hard to leverage the differences in styles and experiences that the team has to offer. Another really important, important construct is that great team members of systems-focused teams recognize the importance of integrating well. Not necessarily just understanding what the roles are that people play, but also how they're supposed to integrate together on the most important priorities that the team is facing.

Finally, great teams that our systems-focused don't let weak links define the team. What I mean by that is if there is bad structure, we meet horribly as a team, and those meetings are just painful to attend and useless in terms of wasting our time. We voice our concerns and we make sure that they're better, we don't just rely on the formal leader, we take an active role in that. On the other hand, if there are weak links in terms of relational dynamics that are going on, there are a couple of people on the team that are at each other's throats, we don't sit back as bystanders and let that happen. We try as best we can to play a role in helping those dynamics get better. I recognize that's pie in the sky sometimes thinking, but if not you, then who helps the team that you're on evolve? These are some of the characteristics of great systems.

So how do we build an effective system? There are three important components to build an effective system. First, we organize as a team and not as a staff group. If you really want to be a team, you have to organize as such, meaning that we're not just a reporting mechanism to the CEO who makes all the decisions. We're not just a sharing information body that is sharing your functional progress. We actually are a team that is working on important priorities together. Not all priorities, but some very important priorities that will push the organization forward.

Some important examples of that, if we're doing growth by acquisition, many team members must be involved in that. Not all team members necessarily, but how are we coordinating those activities around acquisition? If we're going through a restructuring, same thing. If we have a customer concentration issue and we're trying to diversify our customer base, that's not just the function or the marketing function. There are many a players that play a role in making those important shifts happen. So, making sure you that you're stepping back and recognize if you do want to be a team, don't organize yourself as a staff.

Next, it's important to balance your functional and enterprise roles. What I simply mean by that is getting the folks on the team to recognize that yes, they play an important functional role as the CFO, or the head of quality, or the head of a regulatory, or marketing, but they also have a role in a greater good role, the good of the organization, and their enterprise role simply means that they have to use their skills and experience and have a voice at the team, and hopefully on, back to one, organizing as a team, is there a sense of purpose on what we're supposed to be integrating on together?

Then the third component is that it's important to practice and envision the team as a system. What does it look like if our leadership team is functioning as a system, recognizing that when I take an action it will likely have an impact on maybe not all other parts of the organization and on my teammates, but on many parts of the organization. So, organizing is a team and not a staff group, balancing our functional enterprise roles, and envisioning the team as a system are three important pieces for how we step back and build an effective leadership team system.

I guess I'll leave you with one final thought is that while it may seem trivial to say, and it may be obvious to say, changes to one part of the system will naturally impact other parts of the system, sometimes positively and sometimes in unintended or undesirable ways. And so if there's one thing I would hope that you would take away from this webinar today, aside from the technical problems we've had, is simply that it's really important for individuals on a team to recognize that the actions they take have impacts on other components of the team and it's important to just step back and think through what those unintended consequences might look like.

It's also, as a team, important to think through the environment that you're working in and is the structure, and our relational dynamics, and the style, and preference of the formal team leader in sync with each other in a way that is going to capitalize and help us move forward in that new environment, or are there any adjustments that need to be made?

And so, I hope you've enjoyed the discussion or the presentation so far. I promised to get the technical difficulties fixed. I also will have the links to this slides and article on that relates to this topic and some other materials out to you either this afternoon or tomorrow. Thanks again for your time. Again, I apologize for the technical difficulties.