How To Ensure Your Executive Team Shares Responsibility Together

How To Ensure Your Executive Team Shares Responsibility Together

This is where I am seeing gaps in executive teams at the moment. People have been promoted into executive roles, which is great. It is great to create opportunity for individuals and teams. Yet these leaders have often not been effectively supported in the transition to executive thinking, executive mindset, and executive responsibility and accountability.

This makes the CEO’s job more challenging.

One of the most important roles for a CEO, as well as managing upwards and managing outwards, is to lead their executive team.

Without an effectively operating executive team, the CEO is very hard-pressed to deliver on their goals to ensure that they are operating a commercially viable, sustainable, relevant, value-adding organisation.

Here is the trick. Many executives are not operating as executives, or members of an executive team. It is clearly the CEO’s role to lead their executive team. And also, to develop each individual member of that executive team so they are operating and contributing as a member of the executive team. Rather than continuing to operate and lead as they always have before.

Being a member of the executive team is different to the levels of leadership that come before.

There is a transition that is very clear when people become a member of an executive team.

Often, in their leadership career up to this point, leaders have been responsible for a portfolio. A clear area of responsibility that they have been, and are, accountable for delivering against.

When a leader becomes a member of an executive team, this changes. In addition to being responsible for leading a portfolio of the organisation, they are also jointly responsible for the entire organisation. There is a collective responsibility shared by the executive team.

Knowing how to balance the priorities and importance of your own portfolio as well as the entire organisation requires effort. It takes intention. What I see in some executive teams which are not functioning well, is that they are prioritising their individual portfolios over what is in the best interests of the entire organisation. Often, in these situations, the executive team does not have alignment, or a shared agenda.

This is where the CEO has a critical role leading their team to high performance. If your executive team is not operating at the right level and in the right way, you need to help them get there.

There are two aspects for a CEO to consider here.


Preparing executive team members to recognise this new and greater organisational responsibility, in addition to their portfolio responsibility. It is the CEO’s role to generate this awareness and recognition with their individual executive team members.


The CEO has a clear responsibility to create a team. A team that can work effectively together. A team that can work towards becoming a high performing team, setting themselves and their organisation up for success and longevity.

It is the CEO who can set up their executive teams for success, so they can lead the overall business.

This means leading a team that can have the important conversations. That has a shared agenda, who can make decisions that support the overall needs of the organisation, not just a particular unit within the organisation.

Amongst other things, this requires leadership maturity. It requires bigger perspective, broader perspective, strategic perspective.

If your executive team is not operating where you need them to, start to think about:

➛ What is not happening?

➛ What else needs to be in place?

➛ What is the capability gap?

➛ What is the perspective executive team members are bringing to your work together?

➛ What is the perspective gap?

➛ How well are you leading your executive team?

➛ How are you developing their capability?

➛ How are you stretching their perspective?

➛ How are you challenging them?

➛ How are you advocating for them?

➛ How are you ensuring your executive team members recognise the difference in their level of responsibility now they are a member of the executive team?

Without an integrated focus across both their own portfolio and the broader portfolio of the whole organisation, the executive team is not set up to function well. You are far less likely to develop an integrated portfolio plus organisation perspective. Each person is more likely to keep paddling their own canoe in a race against their team members, rather than the team all paddling together in a bigger boat which will go further and faster.

So, what are your options for creating a high performing executive team?

I’d love to know your thoughts.

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