“Yet with a culture of individual accountability and self-reliance pervading executive suites, few senior executive groups ever function as real teams.” Jon R. Katzenbach, Teams at the Top
No doubt that leadership is the primary driver of organizational success. Yet leading today is more challenging than ever due to the accelerating pace of change and escalating complexity of the world around us. One necessary way of responding to these challenges is by improving how an organization’s top leaders work together to manage the business.
At The Center for Organizational Design, we believe that “the leadership process” is a critical driver of an organization’s ability to meet the demands of the business environment, execute their business strategy, build a culture of engaged employees, and succeed long-term.
Unfortunately, far too many leadership teams do not do this well. They spend more time on operational than strategic issues. They focus more on their individual roles than their collective responsibilities. They lack a clear definition of their purpose and shared core work. And they often lack the procedures and structure to enable them to work effectively together.
In truth, it is impossible for leaders at the top of an organization (large or small) to provide the leadership necessary for an organization to become high performing if they have not defined how they will work together.
Do they have a common vision of the future and strategy to achieve that vision? How do they set goals and define priorities? How clear are their values? Do they “walk the talk?” Do they trust each other? Collaborate cross-functionally? How do they communicate? Are they able to talk about sensitive topics? How do they make decisions? Hold one another accountable? Balance daily urgencies against the long-term development of the organization? Work out inevitable conflicts and competing priorities?
The Team Development Process
We guide teams through a process of defining and improving their charter (mission, values, goals/metrics, etc.), design (how they organize themselves to accomplish their work), and relationships (their respect, trust, cohesion and synergy) so they can become a cohesive team with a common focus, able to rally people behind them, and achieve outstanding business results.
How well the top team manages their own “leadership process” is a critical driver of their ability to meet the demands of the business environment, execute their business strategy, design an effective organization, build a culture of engaged employees, and succeed long-term.
The Board of Trustees is very pleased with the work you’ve done with us. Both our team building retreat and vision/goal-setting session were more than we expected. You helped us navigate some extremely sensitive relationship issues and regain our trust in one another. We are a cohesive team again and I can’t think of one issue that has been a problem or concern. You really did work a miracle with us and we can’t thank you enough for everything you did.”
—Michael Simone, Mayor, Town of Firestone
Personality conflicts began to develop between us after our first year together. We all began to use your methods to solve our misunderstandings. At the present time, I simply couldn’t be happier with our interrelationships. We are still very different, but our acceptance of each other’s traits is at a very high level. We now make an excellent team.”
—Roger Walton, President of Petroleum Data Systems
The agenda said it was time to move on – – but Roger Allen just pulled a chair to the center of our horseshoe and sat quietly. “Something tells me we are not ready to move on. Is there something important that isn’t being said?” There was silence. Roger waited patiently. Then, one by one, issues that had been undermining our effectiveness for years rose to the surface. Three hours later, we knew we could become a high performing team.
—DD Hilke, Museum President
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