|A well-oiled executive leadership team is the lynchpin of your organisation’s success. Not only will a high-performing C-suite team sustain your competitive advantage, it will also energise your organisation and ensure your vision comes to fruition. Designing and developing a flourishing senior leadership team is an ongoing process, and the onus is on you, the leader, to leverage the right currency to unlock your team’s highest potential.|
It’s natural to assume that a group of highly skilled, highly experienced individuals would automatically result in a well-integrated team. The reality is that harmonising a group of often disparate personalities with different mandates is a delicate balancing act. The main purpose of your leadership team is to drive your strategic agenda – this can only happen if your team is strong, aligned and cohesive. Research shows that, more often than not, executive teams perform well below par, and there are a number of reasons for this:
- Lack of singular focus: Some members of the team may be focused on the long-term vision, while others may be focused on short-term objectives
- Interpersonal dynamics: Conflict, lack of consensus and poor communication can compromise team cohesion and lead to dysfunction
- Lack of engagement: An engaged leadership team is the cornerstone of an engaged workforce – it’s up to the CEO to build a team of highly motivated individuals who are committed to the organisation’s success
How good CEOs build high-performing executive teams
When it comes to building a thriving executive team, the CEO’s job is twofold: 1) developing a keen awareness of the forces that could impact the organisation and shaping a strategy that will steer it through even the choppiest of waters; 2) fervently espousing the values that the executive team will ultimately adopt. As a leader, you need to model the behaviours you want to see reflected in your team – you alone create the environment that is conducive to long-term success.
As a leader, you need to model the behaviours you want to see reflected in your team – you alone create the environment that is conducive to success.
In a high-performance culture, good leaders routinely demonstrate the following behaviours:
- The ability to establish a clear, compelling vision and set of goals. Research shows that there is a strong correlation between goal alignment and business performance. Clear, motivating goals and targets aligned to a clear and compelling vision will encourage high-performing teams to produce the required results. As a rule, when goals are well aligned and deployed throughout the organisation, profit margins are better and business strategy is executed more effectively and speedily. In addition, the process results in greater employee engagement, leading to higher productivity, reduced turnover of talented personnel, and greater commitment to the organisation and its purpose.
- Showing a willingness to adopt new behaviours, to ‘let go of the reins’ and give teams freedom and autonomy to make decisions about their work and optimise their contribution to team goals.
- Engaging in powerful conversations that foster trust. High-performing organisations are founded on the basis of mutual trust. CEOs need to, at all times, deal with their teams openly and honestly, and give them the resources and authority to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. Powerful conversations are meaningful interactions structured to produce the best possible solutions – they are an opportunity to listen attentively and encourage fresh and innovative thinking.
Leveraging leadership engagement currency to unlock potential
To get the most out of your leadership team, you need to understand what it is that motivates them. This valuable insight will give you the leverage you need to build leadership cohesion and maximise performance. Following are three leadership engagement currencies that you can use to create a focused, driven and high-performing executive team:
Practise listening to understand – avoid rushing into problem-solving mode before you’ve listened to the challenges and concerns being shared. Sharing in excitement or empathising with challenges encourages your people to express feelings and ideas without fear of reproach.
Create an environment where it is safe to innovate, implement change and share ideas. Make your leaders feel that they can bring their ideas to fruition with the support and encouragement of the entire team.
By identifying and recognising successes (especially publically) you can generate further contribution and greater commitment. Positive reinforcement provides the motivation that will propel your people to the next achievement.
How a high-trust culture impacts the bottom line
These three currencies are designed to help you build better relationships with your executive team. Stronger relationships will, in turn, engender a culture of trust, wherein your team will feel more involved, engaged and driven.
Individuals that worked for high-trust companies reported being 50% more productive and 76% more engaged.
In his article, The Neuroscience of Trust (Harvard Business Review, January/February 2017), scientist and author Paul J. Zak states that a high-trust culture is the key to boosting workplace happiness, productivity and performance. Zak identified eight measurable management behaviours that help foster a culture of trust, including:
- Recognise excellence
- Induce ‘challenge stress’
- Give people discretion in how they do their work
- Enable job crafting
- Share information broadly
- Intentionally build relationships
- Facilitate whole-person growth
- Show vulnerability
Through field research and data collection, Zak was able to test the impact of trust on business performance. The results were astounding. In a comparison between high-trust and low-trust companies, individuals that worked for high-trust companies reported being 50% more productive, enjoyed their jobs 60% more, were 70% more aligned with their company’s purpose, experienced 40% less burnout, and were 76% more engaged.
The secret to creating an engaged executive team isn’t a secret at all: it boils down to simple common sense. By listening attentively to your team, creating an environment that rewards stellar performance, and giving your people the freedom to execute ideas and projects, you’ll be able to shape a high-performing team that will ably and willingly carry your vision into the future.
This resource has been prepared for general guidance on matters of interest only, and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained herein without obtaining specific professional advice. Competitive Capabilities International (CCi) does not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this resource or for any decision based on it.