Chances are you've heard the saying, "You are only as strong as your weakest link" quite a few times. While this proverb is certainly a rather trite phrase, it is also very true, especially when it comes to your leadership team. No matter how uncomfortable or unpleasant it might be, it is necessary to evaluate every person in your leadership team to ensure everyone is contributing both the quality and quantity necessary. If you're not sure how to determine if you have the right people on your leadership team, here are ten tips that will help you do just that. After all…I’ve heard it before, maybe you have too; EVERY company is just one leadership team away from extinction.
What is a Leadership Team?
The success of a business or organization depends on the current leadership team. The traditional leadership team consists of members who play different yet complementary roles. For example, many organizations have a Chief Executive Officer and a Chief Operating Officer. The Chief Executive Officer is usually responsible for external issues while the Chief Operating Officer is responsible for internal issues. Inside of the EOS system that I teach entrepreneurial leadership teams, we believe that it is much less about titles and more about what you do. And more importantly, what are you accountable for? No one in a leadership team is capable of playing all the varied roles required to achieve success. This highlights the importance of having the right people in your leadership team. (Yes, the timeless "Right People Right Seats" argument that Jim Collins gave us in his masterpiece “Good to Great”)
Commonly, If one person fails, the entire initiative will usually fail because no one else will usually step up for fear of “stepping on toes.” Or they simply do not want to be associated with the failure, so they steer clear of the carnage.
A leadership team is a group of people who all have a special talent, or what I like to call their "Business Super Power", When combined with others, their special and unique talent creates a team. Because of this talent diversity, the team can accomplish things none of the individuals on their own could even dream of achieving.
I like to use stories and imagery to illustrate my points. Seeing a lone wolf in the wild is very concerning. Seeing an entire pack (with a hungry look in their eyes) is probably the last thing you’ll ever see. Because they work really well together, they clearly know their goal, and are all well aware of their exact role in how they will eat you.
Do you have a ‘Wolfpack' that your competitors fear, or is your team a bit more soft and cuddly? Here are 10 points to check your teammates on:
Everyone Serves a “Specialist” Role
One way you can determine whether you have the right people in your leadership team is by identifying the role that each team member plays. In a leadership team, everyone should play different yet complementary roles, all highlighting their unique ability™. That way, the leadership team can bring experts to bear making it much easier to complete everything on its to-do list in an organized and efficient fashion. If you find that you have multiple people who play the same role on the same team, this likely indicates that some tasks aren't being completed to the best of your leadership team's ability. You want to ensure that team members are living up to their designated role and ability, we call that GWC™ or Get it, Want it, and Have the Capacity to do it. It amazes me how often leaders delegate things or put people in a seat that they don’t GWC, and then we wonder why they weren’t successful in that role.
Every seat on the Leadership Team is Necessary
Even though every team member serves a different role, that does not mean that everyone’s opinion or perspective is vital to the leadership team at the highest level of the organization. After evaluation, you may find that not every leader or manager presence is essential or even necessary to the success of the leadership team. To ensure the efficiency and accountability of the leadership team, you need only to keep members on the team who have ownership of top level functions at your organization. As my friend and creator of the Entrepreneurial Operating System® Gino Wickman says, “When two people are accountable, no one is accountable!”
Do Roles Align with Talents?
Another way you can know whether you have the right people in your leadership team is by assessing whether the roles of your team members align with their talents. The purpose of a leadership team is to take advantage of the knowledge of people who possess different abilities. Sometimes, a team member may be talented in certain areas, but these talents may not be transferable to their current seat. Again, if they don’t Get it, Want it, or have the Capacity to do it, they CAN NOT BE IN THAT SEAT. We know how it ends when they don’t GWC.
Healthy Open and Honest Communication
One ideal trait that all of the team members of a leadership team should have is the ability to communicate openly, honestly, and clearly. No matter how excellent your leadership team might be, it is very likely that sticky issues will come up. In fact, it is practically inevitable that your leadership team will encounter a problem of some magnitude eventually. To solve this issue (and all the little day to day ones) as quickly as possible before it grows, healthy open and honest communication is critical.
Your team members must not withhold the truth. If they do your spending time working on things that aren’t the root issue, you are mostly spinning your wheels without traction. Once the real issue is on the table, then you can solve it at its root, and solve it forever. As opposed to not going deep enough, and just simply solving a symptom of the central issue, one that will surely come back for you to deal with again. The quality of your team’s health on the leadership team is not something to ignore. This is where I find the greatest gains a company can make in a relatively short amount of time. Yes, it’s really that important, and yes, your team is probably not as healthy as you think it is.
People Who Have Commitment
Everyone in your leadership team should be absolutely committed to the primary objective. One major cause of the fall of many leadership teams is the failure of one, some, or all team members to commit to the shared objective. The team members of a leadership team should not be in it for themselves. They should see themselves and the seat they occupy as essential to the achievement of the shared objective. If the team members don't commit or have their internal motivation to work hard and ultimately accomplish the goal, they will innevitably hold the company back, or destroy it entirely.
No matter how skilled the members of your leadership team are, they won't get anything meaningful done if they don't have any collaboration skills. This relates to the necessity of having team members who have great open and honest communication skills. Without excellent collaboration skills, your leadership team will likely be unable to come to one conclusion to resolve a problem or move forward with a project. When we set our goals as a team, we know upfront that it’s going to take the ENTIRE TEAM to accomplish them.
You know you have the right people in your leadership team when they can be accountable for all of their actions and decisions. When an issue arises, the last thing you need is the members of your leadership team to point fingers. Playing the blame game will only prevent your leadership team from moving forward and getting the objective accomplished. When you have one set of eyeballs to look to when things aren’t working, it’s a lot easier to deal with the issue instead of wasting time listening to excuses, and playing a game of politics in the office.
People in your leadership team should also be consistent regarding the work they produce. That way, you will be able to count on them to contribute their part to every project. This also means that they are consistent with living your CORE VALUES. Dr. Thomas Gordon said many years ago that to raise great children, (also very appropriate for managing other humans), you need to do three simple things, and you’ll be good to go. First, have just a handful of rules, Second, repeat yourself often (7 times to hear it the first time!) and Third, be consistent.
I believe that simplicity equals consistency.
Ability to Spot Opportunity
You should expect your leadership team to spearhead innovation for your organization. Therefore, you want the team members of your leadership team to be able to recognize opportunity and capitalize on this opportunity before someone else does. When you have a healthy leadership team that executes consistently, it is much easier to take a shot at something because you’re much more confident that your team can win.
Ability to Take Risks
This relates to the ability to spot an opportunity. There is no point in having team members who can spot opportunity if they are unable to take risks and benefit from this opportunity for the success and prosperity of your organization. I believe you can minimize risk in your business by strengthening the six key components of your business.
When you are strong in the Vision Component, everyone knows where your company is going AND exactly how you will get there. When you are strong in the People Component, you have the right people in the right seats (They share your Core values, and they GWC the seat they occupy). When you are strong in the Data Component, every team, and every individual has a number, and they love hitting it. When you are strong in the Issues Component, you can solve your business issues at their root and have an open and honest environment. When you are strong in the Process Component, you have a simple and easy “Way” to do business, think the 20% that gives you the 80%. And finally, the Traction Component that brings the vision down to the ground and makes it a reality by executing quarterly rocks, and getting into a highly effective meeting format like the Level 10 meeting.
As you can see, there are many things you should consider if you're trying to figure out whether you have the right people in your leadership team. Just examine the characteristics discussed above and you will be able to evaluate your leadership team.