How to Develop the Powerful Leadership Team

The leadership team is one of the, if not the most important component of an organization. Collectively, members of this group determine where the organization is going and how it is going to get there. Yet, the percentage of leadership teams operating at dysfunctional levels is staggering. Back in 2007, 42 percent of senior leadership teams were considered dysfunctional. Today, the number varies depending on source, but it doesn’t seem to have improved much, if any at all.

A high performing team (the opposite of dysfunctional) is one that is more productive, has higher employee retention rates, delivers on ROI, meets and often exceeds expectations of the board… and the exemplary list goes on. So, of course, achieving this should be the aim of every CEO. And, while building a team that can help you achieve such results isn’t something that can be learned in a single blog post, there are some basic principles that can help you start down the right path. 

They are as follows:

  • Ignoring numbers. There are always going to be those who will try to convince you that having the perfect number on your executive team is key. Forget the numbers. We’re going for quality, not quantity.

  • Creating goals. Get on the same page early and often. A team can only be high performing if it’s performing in unison, with the same outcome in mind. Keep the lines of communication open and take the steps necessary to ensure everyone always has the goals in sight.

  • Establishing responsibilities. Everyone has a purpose; and, while there doesn’t have to be lines of separation between team players, there should never be a doubt as to the contribution of any one person.

  • Fostering support. In his research, J. Richard Hackman, an Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard, found that highly effective leadership teams rely heavily on the support they have for one another. This includes coaching, mentoring, and general support for one another. So, while members will have their individual roles, they should actively seek to support each other in their common strive for success.

  • Providing feedback. What’s working and what isn’t? There must be consistent and dependable feedback in order to ensure progress and productivity.

  • Leading. In researching, I came upon an article that said highly effective teams aren’t focused on any one individual. They are completely cohesive. To an extent, this is true in that the team must work well together toward a common goal. But every good team must have a good leader; and, in this case, that is you. It is your responsibility to ensure the rest of these principles are implemented and adhered to, while leading the team by example.

Here’s an analogy to put this into context: Consider the instruments involved in an orchestra. Playing individually, an instrument sounds nice, but the independence leaves something to be desired…there surely are no exceeding of expectations. Yet, when you join all the instruments together, give them a sheet of music, and a conductor, suddenly you have a completely different sound. As H.E. Luccock once said, “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.”