Industry Insights

Building a Leadership Team: What you need to know

Posted by John Wills on Oct 21, 2022 10:16:00 AM

Hierarchies are getting flattened in a massive cultural shift, but while organizations appear to be moving away from a heavy-handed top-down approach to management, there still remains the need for bonafide leaders. A leader doesn’t necessarily need to be a boss, they just need to be someone who can steer the ship in the right direction. Multiply the leaders in a considered and intelligent way, and you can end up with a leadership team that really gives meaning, purpose, and direction to a business or project. 

What are Leadership Teams?

A leadership team depends on the organization in question. For some, it refers to the C-level management team of upper-level execs, such as the:

  • CEO - Chief Executive Officer
  • CFO - Chief Financial Officer
  • COO - Chief Operating Officer
  • CTO - Chief Technology Officer
  • CIO - Chief Information Officers
  • CMO - Chief Marketing Officer
  • CSO - Chief Strategy Officer

When all of these roles work in harmony, they are able to impact the overall direction of a business, however, they often focus on overseeing their own departments, rather than being a point of leadership. The main job of the upper executives is to make sure the business makes sensible decisions to protect shareholders. Often, it’s not the C-level officers who drive change, it is the people nearer the bottom who see and experience the problems that need solutions. It can be the managers who work directly with their teams and receive all of the information to later feed higher up the chain. The point is - leaders exist at every level of the business. 

A leadership team does not need to be based on job titles, it can be built on impact, influence, leadership skills, who is in contact with the most departments, and who has the most buy-in to the corporate or project vision. Let’s help you find them and organize them.

Identifying the Key Players & Team Size

Before identifying the key players, it’s important to remember that group size is strategically key to success. It’s widely recognised that beyond five people, there are diminishing returns on effort and input, with a large group allowing people to participate less. 

Your leadership team should consist of around five people who are known for:

  • Existing leadership skills
  • Noticeable influence and sway in the organization
  • Great human skills such as empathy, listening, and conflict resolution
  • Impeccable communication skills for delivering change
  • A large number of friends and trusted contacts in the organization

Essentially, you want effective changemakers. Remember to include yourself in the five.

Identifying the Key Objectives & Activities

What will your leadership team do, and why? Typically, the team will come together to do a number of things, each of which will likely fall under these three umbrellas:

  1. Create an Environment for Collaboration
    The leadership team will look at systems and processes in the organization, where they are effective, and where they rupture communication. The goal is to bring people closer together so that they can collaborate on projects instead of working in silos. They will seek to identify self-interested employees and filter them out or change their behaviors. When an organization is working collaboratively throughout, it makes it more dynamic, responsive, and creative, with departments seeing each other as effective allies.
  2. Encourage Strategic Thinking and Input
    Whoever puts the leadership team together (you) doesn’t want full responsibility for strategic developments, so they need to make sure everyone’s contributions are valued and considered. This requires people to have good ideas, which, of course, depends on whether the right people were brought into the group.
  3. Drive Leadership

    Passive leaders will not be of any use on your team, as you’ll want active leaders who genuinely take interest in their leadership! Find leaders who make leaders by helping to build the trust that employees need to fulfill tasks; allocating resources to execute tasks, and delegating responsibility to ensure overall organizational and operational success. They are your superstars.

Passive leaders will not be of any use on your team, as you’ll want active leaders who genuinely take interest in their leadership! Find leaders who make leaders by helping to build the trust that employees need to fulfill tasks; allocating resources to execute tasks, and delegating responsibility to ensure overall organizational and operational success. They are your superstars.

FIVE Hacks for Robust Teambuilders!

  • Practice ‘Change Management’ - create a strategic and decisive plan to change people and policies, so that your leadership team doesn’t ruffle feathers. Remember that people are naturally resistant to change, so doing too much can cause a great deal of friction and anxiety
  • Teach Conflict Management and Resolution - conflict is a normal part of a driven team that wants to meet its objectives. Remember, nobody wants passive team members, essentially just ‘yes men’ whose obedience is the antithesis of collaboration. Teach your leaders how to identify these nodding heads and their opposites, the toxic fight starters who thrive on drama 
  • Introduce Stress Management Strategies - burnout and stress are among the main reasons why professionals fail, or feel that they’re failing, at their jobs. This is true from the bottom to the top, so you need to populate your leadership team with people who are willing to develop the skills needed to handle the pressure. Don’t let your best people exhaust themselves, help them to cope with the weight of their work
  • Teams Always Beat Individuals -  Drive the importance of strength in numbers so that individuals trying to shine or outperform team members don’t lose focus. Collective power will help your leadership team overcome almost any problem
  • Test the Team’s Compatibility - The hardest of these five hacks is the thoroughly considered balance of the people in your leadership team. Adding and removing key figures will be sure to cause upset, so avoid that as best you can. The best approach is not to create a team of lookalikes, but rather a group with different strengths and weaknesses who complement one another.

Running leadership exercises can help to identify individuals and support teambuilding. Business simulations are the best way to test a team’s compatibility, and you can do this without them knowing that you’re assembling a task force!

Conclusion: Measuring the Effectiveness of Your New Leadership Team

With all of this teambuilding information to digest and implement, it’s important that we leave you with the ultimate consideration: measuring success. One way is through quantitative and qualitative KPIs for each leader on your team. You can also look at company growth, both new and retained customer data, and even procure feedback from employees on whether they feel the changes have been effective or not. If the data looks good, maintain the momentum and turn your business from a good one into a phenomenal one!

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