April 4, 2011
Core Factors of A Leadership Team
By Thomas Samson
There are six critical success factors that must be in place before any group begins to function as a leadership team.
Leadership teams are usually formed by a sponsor who recognizes that reaching an organizational goal will require a group of individuals working together to provide the leadership necessary to move a company, division or unit towards the organization’s goals. It is the sponsor’s responsibility to create a ?charter’ that establishes the leadership team and it’s primary focus. In addition, the sponsor establishes specific goals the leadership team is to accomplish. The sponsor will also select the team leader and gain his or her commitment to lead the leadership team in defining and carrying out the needed actions.
A shared understanding of the leadership team’s stakeholders, their expectations of the team, and the values the team embraces is essential to create the focus needed as the leadership team members plan and execute the actions necessary to achieve the team’s goals.
Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound goals should be established by the team’s sponsor and then broken into sub-goals by the leadership team. Without SMART goals, the team will lack the milestones necessary to drive action.
Every leadership team needs a leader who focuses the members of the team on the mission, purpose, and goals of the team. This individual must be committed to the team’s results and must be willing to be held accountable by the team’s sponsor and other stakeholders, for leading the team through processes that insure the team’s goals are reached. The team leader must engage each team member in the processes of the team and build a platform of mutual trust that leads to open debate, collaboration, individual commitment, and personal accountability.
The most important element of successful team work is the establishment of a platform of mutual trust that enables the leadership team to engage in open debate and decision making that leads to commitments to action by individual members of the team. Building this trust requires an openness that allows team members to know and understand the beliefs and behaviors of all members of the team so that team actions can be structured to take advantage of each member’s uniqueness and talents. Behavioral and values assessments are powerful tools.
An effective leadership team will have team members who are actively engaged in the work and focus of the team. This will require that each team member emotionally commits to actively and openly participate in the team’s processes in the pursuit of the team’s goals. The team member must willingly commit to carry out action plans to complete individual actions necessary for the team to reach their team goals. The team member must be dependable and carry the full weight of personal responsibility to complete their individual commitments by the date committed to. Engaged team members enthusiastically support each other and add value to other team members. They prepare for team processes and choose to engage others in a positive manner to find solutions to issues and challenges they individually or as a team face. They constantly seek to improve themselves for the benefit of the team and never, never, never quit.
The Four Factors of Execution
The following four critical success factors will insure the leadership team carries out the actions necessary to reach their designated goals.
The power of teamwork dynamics is engaged when the leadership team members come together to focus collectively on goals, issues, challenges, and problems. Team leaders must carefully manage the processes of team meetings in order to maximize the power of the collective knowledge and skills of the team members. Our research indicates the most effective leadership teams include at least three but no more than six individuals who follow a meeting methodology that is focused on dealing with issues requiring the leadership team’s attention and maximizes the power of the collective knowledge and skills of the team members.
The work of a leadership team is carried out by individual members of the team. When a team has developed a plan of actions that are necessary to achieve their goals or overcome barriers, individual members must commit to carrying out specific actions which in many cases will include actions by the individual teams they in turn lead. The leadership team’s collaborative processes must include steps to:
Team goals will usually not be realized until individual commitments are completed. Leadership team members must embrace a discipline to complete their commitments as scheduled. They must agree to hold each other personally accountable for completing, as scheduled, the commitments each person has made to the team. Each leadership team member must continuously report the status of their open commitments to the team so that barriers to completion can be identified early in order to permit the leadership team leader and other team members the opportunity to deal with the issues before overall deadlines are impacted
Barriers to team and individual progress will occur in every leadership team effort and must be dealt with quickly to continue progress towards the team’s goals. The team leader must continuously monitor the status of each individual’s commitments and initiate barrier removal processes where appropriate. Team-based processes for developing action plans to overcome barriers impacting individual commitments should be instilled as a part of the team’s culture.