Do You Have The Right Leadership Team?
The most critical component of growing a business is ensuring that you have the right leadership talent to support the goals of the organization and the maturity stage it is in. For example, in the early stages of a company the CEO and the executive leadership team need to focus on understanding customers, designing products and services, and selling solutions to the market. However, as the company stabilizes its growth, the leadership needs to prioritize building the internal organization and culture.
So how do you know that you have the right leadership team at any given point in an organization’s lifecycle? It comes down to asking these four fundamental questions:
1) Where does the organization want to go?
A strong leadership team generates momentum for everyone in the organization to propel the organization’s vision and strategy forward. Therefore, it is critical that the collective capabilities of the leadership team are aligned with what it will to take achieve that vision. For example, if the desire for a company is to move in a new more innovative direction while increasing revenue, the leadership team needs capabilities to engage in and foster out-of-the-box, big picture thinking, while at the same time strong financial acumen to quickly assess the bottom-line impact of those innovative ideas, and the execution skills to turn feasible ideas into revenue generating streams for the business. Being clear about the company’s vision will help make it clear the mix of skills and capabilities that you need in the leadership team to achieve that vision.
2) What are the organization’s and leadership’s unwavering values?
One of the key responsibilities of an organization’s leadership team is to uphold the core values of the organization and rally employees around honoring those values in “the what and the how” of the work that they do. However, if you have leaders whose personal values are not in congruence with the company’s core values, it can not only create tension in how they lead, but could threaten the guiding ethos and culture of the company.
3) What are the strengths and blind spots of the current leadership team?
Once you have a clear articulation of the organization’s vision and the strategy that needs to be pursued to get there, it is important to take stock of the current leadership team’s strengths and potential blind spots. For example, we were once working with a leadership team of an organization that wanted to strengthen its image in the marketplace through improved employee experience and retention. An assessment of the executive leadership team revealed that while the team was strong on the analytical and results-driven competencies, they were not as strong on competencies related to employee communications and engagement. Being aware of this blind spot helped them identify steps that they needed to take to bridge that gap to successfully achieve their ultimate vision and goals as an organization.
In our practice, we use a number of qualitative and quantitative assessments to help our clients collect objective data about the strengths and potential blind spots of their leadership team. These include:
360 Assessments such as the Leadership Circle’s Collective Leadership System and Emotional Intelligence (EQ) 360 to understand the impact of the leaders, how they are showing up and any gaps they have in their leadership.
4) How do we define/want to define leadership in our organization?
Leadership is not a one size fits all capability. It varies depending on the needs, vision, values, and goals of the organization. Therefore, to ensure that you have the right leadership team, it is critical to also invest time and effort to articulate what leadership means in your organization. In our work with our clients, it starts with identifying the core leadership principles for the organization. For example, one of our clients is a fast-growing non-profit which is disrupting how we think about food and its uses. One of their core leadership principles, which they evaluate each of their leaders against, is their ability to be a change agent and a change champion. This principle guides the work that every executive leader in that organization does to enable the transformative disruptions that they are creating in the industry.
Clearly defined leadership principles can guide a leadership team’s development, decision-making, and provides a way to hold them accountable to the expected set of behaviors when serving the organization’s objectives.
High-performing organizations need exceptional leadership teams that have the right mix of skills, capabilities, and aptitudes to do the work of leadership that the organization requires to achieve its vision and goals. Great leadership teams don’t happen by chance. It requires careful consideration of the leadership competencies needed to drive the desired results, and then designing the leadership team that delivers those leadership competencies. It also involves regularly evaluating and calibrating the leadership talent mix to ensure that the leadership team continues to be able to successfully support the changing needs and demands of the organization.