Because it is sometimes hard for CEOs to navigate alone, I began offering Leadership Team Coaching about a year ago. It has proven to be a very valuable tool for my clients. If you as CEO are feeling that something is missing in your management team performance or cooperation it may be just the thing for you. At my first meeting with concerned business owners I often hear something like this.
“We could be doing so much better if we could just get focused. We seem to be always reacting to problems instead of planning and executing on the things that would move us forward”.
Leadership Team Coaching begins as individual coaching with each member of the team. Individual one to one coaching is done in confidence with the team member. They share their hopes and dreams as well as frustrations and doubts. Over a few meetings we begin to get a clear picture of the team as a unit.
Many factors can keep a team from realizing their true potential. Among them are unresolved conflicts, lack of trust, expectations that are not aligned, ineffective communication habits, competition, negativism and more. Leadership is a major factor. The habits of the CEO/Owner are very often copied in to team behavior. We need to discover all of the conditions that represent barriers to teamwork and set individual team members on a more productive path. Sometimes this starts at the top. There are situations where a specific team member is miscast and needs to be in a different position. More often new behaviors need to be learned before the team will work well together and become better leaders of their own teams.
I find several tools valuable in working with Leadership Teams need to develop a common language concerning leadership and teamwork.
I begin with Vision. Until each member of the Leadership Team knows and understands the Vision it will not be clear what the company is and there will be much confusion. The Vision in entrepreneurial companies must come directly from the CEO/Owner. Key leaders in the company will need to buy into the vision and use it as a primary guide in all personnel, client, marketing and policy decisions. The Vision needs to be no more than two sentences. It should be direct in cutting to the core of what the company is about. It should be stated in present tense even if you are not there yet. The Vision should be high minded. How do you change the world? How are you the best?
“At BASF, we don ‘t make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.”
“At Apple, we believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex.”
“The Delray Beach Chorale is the premier vocal ensemble in South Florida including professional, non-professional and student members.”
Accountability is necessary to get things done. We teach a simple technique involving only four steps. It takes the fear and difficulty out of accountability for everyone.
- Front load with complete and shared expectations.
- Be very specific leaving nothing to be assumed. Dates, times, places, methods of delivery, who gets copied.
- Every task has an individual owner who is responsible to produce the result even if others are involved.
- Share accountabilities with the team to add cooperation and appreciation.
There is a major advantage available for those who view the world positively. We teach the fundamentals for those who need some remedial work and encourage the naturally positive to bring it to work.
Don’t even mention productivity until Vision, Accountability and Positivity are well embraced by the Leadership Team unless you like the informal title of “efficiency police”. That said, effective time use is a major area of opportunity for most businesses to improve. We encourage the use of collaboration tools and shared project management software as well as teaching simple techniques anyone can use to improve their own time use. We are all given the same twenty-four hours in each day. Much of how we invest that time is up to us. Good time use habits make teams more productive.
A surprisingly large percentage of small to medium sized business do very little planning. Many business owners fear that the plan will take too much time or be wrong. We maintain that without an appropriate plan that at minimum establishes revenue goals, product mix goals, profit targets, cost budgets and resources necessary to achieve the goals with everything laid out over a calendar, nobody really knows where they are going and therefore can not effectively lead.
Planning does not have to be perfect, might not include every detail, usually needs to be updated for unanticipated factors and all goals may not be achieved. However, it is the blue print for success and higher Leadership Team performance.
As we work with Leadership Teams to improve performance we often need to get together with several members of the team or with the entire team for planning sessions, tweaking existing plans or problem solving.
The Leadership Team Coach is in a unique position to see the team as a functional unit. He is the individual coach of each member. This provides the opportunity to nudge members toward behaviors that improve team performance and cooperation. The Leadership Team Coach and his work becomes an integral and important resource. The Coach is the only individual that will know the hopes, dreams and concerns of each team member and therefore can help create a solution that works.