Do you have a whole-minded team?

Posted 07.14.2008

Whole minded_team

The most fun I ever had as a corporate executive was when I was part of a leadership team that really connected with each other to get big things done. Now as a coach and leadership strategist, I see a lot of teams that aren’t having much fun. Why? Well, the first issue is that they’re teams in name only.  When leadership teams don’t work well there are usually some common denominators as to why.

Recently, Stefan Stern of the Financial Times reported on research from the UK-based consultancy Cognosis. In a survey of over 1,000 senior managers, the firm learned that leadership teams were four times more important than individual leaders in developing and implementing strategy. The study showed that the top leader’s job is not to come up with all the big ideas, but to bring together a team of people and act as a catalyst for them to come up with the ideas.

So, how do you this?  Here’s one idea from the FT followed by a few of my own:

1.    Build a whole minded team.  Look for leaders who bring different personality types and approaches to strategic thinking. 
2.    Set some common big goals for the team.  Expect everyone to contribute to the big goals even if some of them fall out of their direct responsibilities.
3.    Come up with a pay plan that ensures everyone is incented to work toward the common goals.
4.    Create regular opportunities for the team to work together.  Weekly team meetings are a good start.  Quarterly pull-ups to shape strategy and review progress so far are key.
5.    Make it fun. Set things up so everyone gets to know each other as people and not just as the positions they hold.

What’s been your experience with good and bad leadership teams?  What would you add to the list of ideas for building a great team? What would you absolutely not recommend?