For your leadership team, you hire and promote the best and the brightest who have a proven track record of delivering exceptional results. You have high expectations that they will inspire, develop, and motivate the same type of knowledge, skill, work ethic, and results orientation in the employees in their functional organizations. You also believe they can and will make valuable contributions as part of the leadership team by representing a critical point of view as issues are discussed decisions are made and executed.
What frequently becomes evident is that your leadership team has never really congealed as a “team.” Instead, you have a leadership “group” of stellar individual performers and functional managers who exhibit an array of bad behaviors – from passive aggressive ways of not addressing issues to working around each other instead of with each other – to venting frustration openly with each other.
In my work with such teams, I’ve found little evidence of mal intent. In fact, intentions are almost universally positive. What I’ve discovered are five key obstacles to leadership team effectiveness that can be skillfully addressed in ways that support the group in its transformation into a high-functioning team. These include:
- Functional Team Primacy – the predisposition each leader has to operate from the perspective his first priority is to represent the functional point of view, rather than to think from an overall leadership team perspective.
- Lack of Unifying Common Goal – missing a clear team purpose or outcome that transcends all functional and tactical objectives.
- Strategic Misalignment – the inconsistency in or direct conflict of functional team objectives that causes leaders to be at odds with each other.
- Internal Competition among Leadership Team Members – the tendency to jockey for the power position or to be seen as the strongest individual contributor on the team – instead of focusing competitive instincts on the eternal competition or market.
- Lack of Trust – doubting that others can or will respectfully represent you and your point of view, even when you’re not around. In common vernacular, missing the sense that others “have your back” – that they will proactively advocate for you.
Add to the discussion. Have you seen any of these obstacles affect teams in your organization? Are there other obstacles that you would add?