As we continue to explore Organizational Health as a means to separate your organization from your competition, it is important to understand the significance of a cohesive leadership team. Even the phrase “leadership team” seems well overused today when we see little evidence of trust, collaboration or working toward a common goal. Taking the time to build a cohesive leadership team will not only separate you from the competition; it will make your organization nearly unstoppable.
A cohesive leadership team is evident by 5 necessary behaviors:
1. They trust one another – not because they have known one another for years, but because they can comfortably admit to the team that they screwed up, they failed to deliver on an assignment or they actually ask for help. They are not worried that their colleagues will then swarm around their weakness like sharks in a tank.
2. The can have healthy conflict – there is an atmosphere that all opinions are expected and welcome, they will be openly debated on their merits, and not based on one person’s preferences or individual, selfish desires.
3. Commitment to the decisions made – can only happen when everyone feels their opinion has been adequately heard by the group and the leader and that the decision made, whether by consensus or by the leader, has been made with the best interests of the organization in mind.
4. Holding one another accountable – happens easily when there is trust and commitment to take action. Peer to peer accountability is most effective, rather than accountability handed out by the leader.
5. Focus on results – results that the leadership team has agreed to rather than their individual results. They focus on how the organization does rather than how good one individual performs over another.
To establish and sustain a cohesive leadership team, the leader must be open to the fact that each individual on the team has different strengths and weaknesses and will most likely differ in opinions from time to time. Rather than dwell on shortfalls, capitalize on the diversity of these thoughts and perspectives.
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Build your unity based on that trust and openness. To be an effective member of the team, the leader must believe and demonstrate that everyone has something to bring to the table; in turn, the people at the table must feel that the team is a place where their opinion is welcome.
Unhealthy behaviors include conversations that are held after the meeting has concluded and a decision supposedly reached. These conversations will criticize the decision and develop all kinds of rationale why the decision is the wrong one. Frustration and anger will take the place of trust and commitment; at this stage, the team begins to fall apart. It is important that the leadership team not just accommodate, but actively invite constructive conflict within the confines of the team. If members of the organization begin to catch on to dissent within the team, the organization is becoming anything but healthy.
When a leadership team is not cohesive, one of the scariest words in the world happens: Politics. This is any healthy organization’s fear because it destroys openness, leaving trust, commitment and accountability dead in the water. Once the leadership team loses its unity of purpose, individuals and the organization’s members scramble desperately to see who is on their side.Alliances are built and before you know it, the organization is declining.
We have worked with several organizations whose leadership group (the word team is intentionally not used) is not at all unified in purpose. Our consultants have observed leadership meeting dynamics where important discussions were being held to map out the future direction of the company or to come together to solve an important issue. In politically charged organizations, these meetings are dead before they start because the members of the leadership group simply do not trust one another. The reasons for the distrust are not important. What is important is that there is no progress made and the dysfunctional organization continues to decline, eventually leading to financial loss, turnover of the best people because they can’t deal with the politics, resulting in significant decline of the organization’s value. Who really wants to work in that kind of environment?
Take a look at the leaders on your “team”. Are they functioning as a cohesive unit? If the answer is no, what can you be actively doing to rebuild trust, gain real commitment, establish accountability and have a unified focus on results? If you are stuck, call us, we can definitely be of help to you.