Building a Leadership Team
As a leader you cannot work alone.
A good leadership team is greater than the sum of its parts. It is an essential support structure for the success of the business.
Building the team you have with you along your journey is critical - this applies whether you are a entrepreneur leading a startup, a C-level executive, or a first time leader in a larger organization. The strength of your leadership / management team will directly impact your ability to lead and the success of your organization. The balance and structure of the team will vary based on the needs and level of the organization.
So how do you go about building an effective leadership team? What should you be looking for in its members?
Functional expertise is going to be helpful in contributing to the success of the organization - as a leader your job is to surround yourself with experts in their fields. It is vital that your leaders can understand and deliver in their area. At more senior levels this becomes about using their experience and domain expertise to contribute to shared goals and the organizations overall success.
Every member of your team should have an area that they are responsible for - you need them to take ownership of this and drive towards its success. If you’re having to micromanage or continually drop down a level to address issues then you won’t be able to focus on what you have to deliver at your level.
Less an individual attribute and more an attribute of the team as a whole, balance is also critical - does your team have diverse representation? Do you have people with different viewpoints, experiences, and backgrounds? If you look around the room and see every face looks similar to yours, your team is not balanced. This will have a knock-on effect all the way down the organization if this is a senior team, and at the lowest levels it will result in a lack of diversity in hiring at the ground floor.
Perhaps a bit literal, but a great example of a support structure
Alignment with Principles, Values, and Culture
Your management team shouldn’t agree with you the whole time - if they do all you have is a group of ‘yes people’ and you won’t ever hear any new ideas or surface any challenges. However, as a leader you should know what you want the principles, values, and culture of your organization to be, and your leaders should be aligned with and cascading that.
I have deliberately separated this out from domain capability above - leadership and management skill is one of the most important things to look for. This includes their ability to hold a vision and design a strategy to deliver it. Does the person have an ability to lead? Do they have the ability to work with their peers towards a greater goal? Are they growing the leaders of tomorrow?
Last but by no means least - you have to be able to trust your leaders, and they have to be able to trust each other. You have to know that they have the right motivations and are going to deliver the mission and not stab you in the back. Again, I don’t expect unwavering agreement, but I do expect honesty and the ability to disagree and commit - i.e. to be able to support a course of action that they don’t necessarily agree with once a decision has been made.
What do you think? What do you look for in a leadership team?
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