Leadership teams, as a whole, create the culture of an organization, but very few organizations actually measure and work at optimizing leadership team performance, according to Jim Taylor and Lisa Haneberg in their book Connecting Top Managers: Developing Executive Teams for Business Success. Clashes within the leadership team have a significantly negative effect on the organization, and many leadership team meetings fail to produce results commensurate with their cost.
To address these issues, it is first necessary to define leadership team success. Besides achieving financial goals, how well does the team implement strategy, grow the business, make good decisions, build organizational culture, build leadership and managerial talent, build relationships, engage in coaching and collaboration, and build organizational agility?
The book goes on to describe good practices for executive teaming, how to assess the cost of meetings and ensure that meetings are creating sufficient value, a number of steps which can be taken to improve an organization’s culture, how to build trust, credibility and familiarity quickly, methods for increasing leadership team member capabilities, how to enhance the organization’s capacity to respond to change, and how to avoid the negative cultural traits which lead to unionization of the workforce.
I was impressed by how well the book identified issues that leadership teams often struggle with. Many leadership teams think of themselves as representatives of their functional units, rather than as a team, and as a consequence they have never considered how important it is to the organization’s success that the leadership team function well. The book provides numerous ideas and tools for dealing with leadership team issues, and I highly recommend it.