How CEOs Build A Strong Foundation for their Executive Team

How CEOs Build A Strong Foundation for their Executive Team

How do you get the best out of your executive team?

In a world of overwhelm and perpetual busyness, what makes the difference between an Executive team that struggles and one that thrives?

This week I had the great fortune to work with one of my favourite CEO clients and his newly shaped exec team.  A recent restructure within this organisation created an opportunity to refresh the organisation in a number of ways. Part of this was about ensuring the executive team is well positioned to lead the whole organisation.

There are a range of things to consider when setting up your executive team for success. Including creating clarity within the executive team so they can be focused on how they show up in the organisation, how they progress the things that are important, and really ensure they are leading the rest of the organisation well.

Where do you start?

At the beginning.

Create a strong foundation for the executive team itself. One which provides them with shared clarity of their collective role. This collective approach is key to your executive team function. Each individual has their own portfolio within the organisation yet has a shared responsibility for the entire organisation. It is this collective approach that is key to the success of any executive team.

It all begins with clarity of purpose, not simply the organisation’s purpose, because this should already be clear. This is about the purpose of this executive team. What is the executive team’s reason for being?

Creating and being clear about the purpose of the executive team of which you are a member provides a solid foundation from which to operate. It informs what you focus on as an executive leadership team, how you show up as a team, and how you show up in the rest of the organisation and to the rest of the organisation.

This in turn creates consistency and certainty in your leadership. In a world of flux this is critically important. This is key for developing trust in your leadership across the organisation.

Having clarity of purpose as an executive team informs your decision-making, both as a team and individually. When making decisions, consider how the decision serves this higher team purpose, of course in the context of the organisation’s purpose.

Your executive team’s purpose informs what you focus on as a team and individually. This ensures that when you come together as a team, that you stay focused on the things that matter in support of your shared purpose.

One of the critical things a clear shared team purpose offers is it supports your ability to say no to activities that are not aligned with the executive leadership team purpose. It allows the executive team to get out of overwhelm and stop them from trying to do everything. The executive team members get clear and only do the things that are within their reason for being, within their purpose, in pursuit of their purpose.

This shared team purpose also allows the executive team members to communicate with clarity out to the rest of the organisation, and with consistency.

A shared executive team purpose also provides the basis for effective executive team meetings. You know what is within your remit, and what is not. It supports a purposeful focus. This also creates a safe opportunity to challenge one another within the executive team.

I’m excited for my client because they have started to build the foundation of not only being an effective executive team, but to be much more than this. I can see the possibilities ahead and the advantage they will have over their competitors.

With 71% of employees not having faith their organisation’s leadership can take their organisation to the next level, it is clear our executive teams need to step up. Building a strong foundation is a good start. Not having a strong foundation is like trying to build a house of cards on uneven ground. It almost always comes tumbling down no matter how hard you try to build it.

In summary, having clarity of purpose for your executive team helps you to be focused on what to do and what not to do, to enable you to say no, to have effective executive team meetings that focus on your shared agenda, driven by the purpose. It supports your collective decision-making. It also allows you to show up in the rest of the organisation consistently and with unity, and allows you to build trust and certainty in your collective leadership. It allows you within the executive team to challenge each other in the safety of having a shared purpose. It allows you to have conversations about the right things. It allows you to role model and demonstrate leadership and to focus only on the important.

And so how do you start to develop a shared purpose for your executive team? Well, here are a couple of questions to facilitate your thinking.

➤ Why do you exist as an executive leadership team?
➤ What is the role that you fulfil?
➤ What is the value you add?
➤ How do you support and embody the purpose of the organisation?
➤ What is your reason for being?

I hope this gets your conversation started as you develop the foundations of a high-performing executive leadership team, and create a solid anchor with a shared team purpose.

I’d love to know your thoughts.

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