Nothing Wrong With Leadership Team Building
I don’t want it to sound like I’m harping on leadership team building. Quite the contrary. As an EOS® Implementer I guide leadership teams through a pretty serious amount of trust building exercises and coaching. There’s nothing wrong with wanting (and working towards) a healthy leadership team.
When leadership teams can’t trust and communicate honestly with each other, they suffer from the same problems any other dysfunctional team would. And, if your team isn’t operating at peak efficiency, you know that is going to hurt. It’s going to hurt the bottom line. And, it’s going to hurt because every moment of work will be just a little bit more stressful.
But, in this age of “magic wand gurus” too many CEO’s think they can just hire a leadership team building coach and fix everything. Unfortunately that’s not the case.
Leadership team building is great. But, it requires a team that works well together already.
When It Doesn’t Work
If your team is already working fairly well together, get yourself some trust and team building exercises. Then, pat yourself on the back for being a great team that is just getting better.
If, however, your team is experiencing real trouble, you need real change. When the problems are deep rooted, you can’t just put a bandage on them and hope for the best. You need real change when:
- a team member isn’t doing their job correctly,
- team members don’t feel safe pointing out failures or problems,
- team members don’t offer up help,
- the team ignores long standing problems,
- certain members of a team are “above the law,”
- no one follows up on assigned tasks,
- long-term goals get ignored or forgotten,
- changes aren’t discussed,
- the boss is acting unilaterally,
- the whole team is reactive no proactive,
- one person’s opinion is heard over everyone else’s,
- or there is a general lack of respect.
These problems aren’t fixable with a few silly trust exercises. You need real, lasting change.
Creating Real Change
The kind of change that I’m talking about doesn’t come easy. Like anything else worth doing, real leadership team building requires hard work. And, that work is going to involve more than a few failures.
But, if you’re willing to endure the scraped knees and black eyes of real change, here’s how it works.
Dedicate Yourself To Honesty
Fully, completely, totally. You can only address problems in your business or your leadership team, when you acknowledge them. Don’t be afraid of the truth. It will reel its ugly head at you. But, just because you don’t acknowledge the truth doesn’t mean it isn’t still tearing your company apart. And, fair warning, if your leadership team is really struggling, that truth is going to involve someone on that team needing to make personal changes.
Hit Problems Head On
When a problem shows itself, you write it down. Put it on a list and keep that list visible. Then, commit to solving the problems on that list with regular, honest discussion. Don’t let things linger and don’t let them fester.
Say It Once
You know what absolutely never won over a person’s opinion? Repeating your own until they just give up. I call that argumentation by attrition, and it’s awful. Reasonable, intelligent people will disagree. If your team members are just repeating their opinions, rephrasing them, or otherwise just trying to get the team to relent, they aren’t team building. It’s easy to look at that like you “searching for consent.” But, you’re not. What you’re doing is making everyone that disagrees with you annoyed. Good leadership teams state their opinion once and make decisions. If you have new information, keep talking. Otherwise, shut up and respect that someone in the room disagrees with you.
Respect Someone’s Ability To Do Their Job Or Just Fire Them
If someone is on the leadership team, respect their ability to do their job. That’s why they are there. If you were better at their job than them, you wouldn’t need them. So, when one of the team members has an opinion, you listen. When they make a decision for their department, you accept it. If you don’t, that’s because you don’t respect them. And, if you don’t respect them, either they don’t have a place on that team, or you don’t.
Fight For A Goal
You need to identify and work for a real goal. Choose something ambitious, but realistic. Ideally, this is a goal the team has felt is just outside of their reach for a long time. Then, make sure it happens. Do whatever it takes and use the advice in this article to get there. Prove the change is working.
Systems For Change
There are plenty of systems for change management.
I strongly recommend the Entrepreneurial Operating System®. It’s in depth, long-term, lasting change. Companies that have used it see immediate growth in health and profits. And, they sustain that growth for years. In fact, the only companies that quit using the system are the ones that grow so big that they need a system designed for much larger companies.
Meet the Founder
Jeff Whittle founded and launched Whittle & Partners in 2011. Before that, Jeff practiced law in Dallas for 15 years and has an additional 20 years of executive business experience. He has run businesses ranging from startups to 300-employee operations.