Organisational politics, departmental fighting and a general lack of cohesiveness throughout the organisation are all born from the executive team members not understanding that their number one priority / team is the executive team!
From what I have observed over the years working in and alongside businesses large enough to have a management or executive team is that almost all hire for secondary roles not the primary role, let me explain.
If an organisation needs a new Sales Manager it will go to the marketplace and find a great individual with proven sales management experience to fill the role, if done right they may even make sure that person is also a cultural fit and everyone feels good about the new hire. This of course is the process for all the senior management positions.
Once they are on board they have their executive group (the number one team) meeting, what happens, each member of the group comes with (what they think is their primary role e.g. Sales Manager) hat on and sits around the table. It wont matter what topic is being discussed each member of the group will be thinking “how does this impact my team?” or worse “I’m not doing that, that has nothing to do with my team” and so little fiefdoms start to emerge, each leader in the room positions themselves to protect their own teams, agree only to initiatives that benefit their own teams and in worst case scenarios get hostile towards others in the room to protect their teams. This is where organisational politics is born, an organisation with a group of leaders at the top all protecting their own agendas.
Wouldn’t business be so much better if the executive group were hired for their primary role in the number one team and do what an executive team should do, drive the company forward and when they are not doing that they can then default to their secondary role of leading the sales team or the finance team, etc. Then we would see one cohesive team (rather than a group of individual leaders) at the top with that cohesiveness being repeated throughout the organisation having everyone on the same page working towards one agenda to achieve clearly defined outcomes.
5 Must Do’s To Get Your Number One Team
- Hire for the team position first: During the hiring process it is important that you emphasise what is really important, you are hiring for a member of your number one (executive) team first and foremost who will also lead the sales team or the finance team etc. The key here is to make sure they fit the culture of the business and fit into the executive team. Have other members of the executive team in on some of the interviews, include a less formal environment for at least one of those interviews where the entire executive team can meet them and get to know them. Leave know doubt in the applicants mind that this is their number one team.
- Build trust within the team: The executive team drives the company forward, it sets its direction, makes the hard calls and ultimately the success of the business sits firmly on the shoulders of the team. Its paramount that their is a high level of trust between the members of the team so that ever member can say what needs to be said so that the right decisions can be made. Make sure your team spends enough time together so that the level of trust can be built none of which will happen if the leader of the executive team does not drive it. Check out Patrick Lencioni’s short video on his views of how important trust in a team is.
- Get your meeting rhythms right: When the executive team meets (which they will do on a regular basis, at least weekly), they are meeting to discuss the business at a high level, to discuss items connected to the overall strategic direction, hurdles that maybe slowing that progress, progress on the organisations key ratios, market feedback, industry trends, sign off things like new product innovation, opportunities in the market place, etc. What is not acceptable is for individuals to use these meetings to position and prioritise their own agendas for their secondary teams.
- Commit to what the group has decided: Once a decision has been made by the executive team, every member of the team must commit to the successful completion of that decision whether they agreed with it or not and positively communicate those decisions with their secondary teams where necessary to help them complete any initiatives connected to it.
- Hold each other accountable: A team is only as good as its weakest member, it is paramount that each member of the team holds every other member accountable for getting things done and calls out individuals who are not performing. How the executive team interact with each other will set the tone for how everyone else in the company interacts with each other.