If you are a member of your organization’s top leadership team, what are the group’s most important responsibilities?
Some great answers include:
- Set direction
- Devise strategies
- Allocate resources
- Monitor progress
- Address problems
Any others? Think hard.
The Missing Responsibility and Why It Matters
Here’s the one you likely didn’t include: Model teamwork.
Think about how much easier your life would be if departments and individuals all played well together. Can you imagine better results and fewer headaches? I can.
Maybe you are too busy to take on another responsibility. No sweat. This one is about saving time you now spend mediating turf disputes and breaking ties when groups can’t make the decision.
Here’s why the senior leadership group needs to set a great teamwork example. People take cues from their supervisors about how to behave. Those supervisors look to their directors and VPs for guidance. And eventually it comes back to you.
Your leadership team has tremendous influence simply by the example it sets. Set the right example, and the organization benefits. Set the wrong one, and you’ve got trouble.
I always like to say that dysfunction rolls downhill. Guess who’s standing at the top?
9 Characteristics of an Effective Leadership Team
How do you know whether your team is a good example? Begin by determining the degree to which the team models these nine characteristics.
1. A meaningful purpose
There is a clear and compelling reason to work together. In high-performance teams a commitment to the team’s purpose should be at least as important (if not more) as the commitment to the purpose for the area each member leads.
2. Shared goals
Your team needs to focus on a set of outcomes which all members are committed to achieving and which require contribution by everyone. If it’s truly a team goal, each member will feel equally responsible for its achievement. Note, these are not necessarily the same as the company’s goals.
3. The right mix
Your team’s members have complementary skills, experiences, and styles necessary for fulfilling the needed roles and responsibilities. People know each other’s strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and aversions. They use this knowledge to create synergy. Members see the value of each person’s presence on the team. There’s a sense of equality.
4. Strong interpersonal relationships
People can be themselves because they genuinely like each other and will do what they can to look out for and support their teammates. Members trust each other and are trustworthy. The cohesiveness of the team is obvious to people outside the group.
5. Helpful operating principles
These are agreed upon ways of working together. These might include a shared set of values, processes for making decisions, ways of communicating within the team and to other employees, tracking activities, and many others. Behavioral expectations are clear.
The team quickly recognizes problems, analyzes them, identifies alternatives, and works toward a resolution. Once the decision is made, everyone commits to supporting it. Often this is best demonstrated by someone’s willingness to raise a thorny issue in the first place and in the members’ willingness to fully engage in solving the problem.
7. High levels of candor
People say what needs saying in a direct and respectful manner. Members are receptive to hearing tough messages without becoming defensive. Heated discussions are not viewed as problems, but rather a positive activity. The discussion stays focused on issues/behaviors rather than on personalities.
8. Mutual accountability
Members hold themselves and others to the commitments they have made. While the CEO often has the primary responsibility for holding his/her employees accountable for keeping their promises, each person shares in this activity.
9. Measure the important
Whether it’s progress on key initiatives, performance results, or even behaviors expected of each other; effective teams track those things that are most important to their success and take action when things are not meeting expectations.
Your next steps
Okay, you’ve formed your opinion. But what do other members of the team think? How about frontline supervisors and employees? And even more importantly, what should you do about it?
To find those answers, outside assistance will help. An experienced team development consultant will:
- Confidentially gather the perceptions people have about the team
- Analyze the data and draw conclusions
- Communicate those findings
- Provide recommendations on how to become a more effective leadership team.
The whole organization is taking behavioral cues from your leadership team. Make sure you are providing the example you want them to follow.
This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.