The leadership team is a critical part of any organization and yet, few of them fulfill their potential. The leadership team usually consists of the most senior people in an organization. They are considered to be the smartest and most powerful body. With these attributes, why do so many of them miss the mark and under perform?
A critical leadership team dysfunction
From my work with leadership teams, many of them have one critical dysfunction. They act as they are the problem solving body. They measure their value in solving other people’s problems, even when they aren’t asked to do so. This occurs when they insist on having the last say in whatever is going on. People outside the team learn that unless the work is reviewed by the leadership team, it won’t be successful. They also learn to bring all their problems to them. If they don’t, their solution will be corrected or adjusted at the next leadership team review. The leadership team can’t stop themselves adding value, at least that is what they think.
By doing this, the leadership team is barking up the wrong tree. Instead of doing their job, they are preventing others from doing theirs. In fact it is worse, they are training those around them not to do their job by solving their problems. So if they aren’t doing their job, what should they be doing?
What should leadership teams do instead?
There are three key roles of a leadership team:
- Setting direction for the organization. This involves setting a vision and creating goals. They decide what they will and more importantly, will not do to get the organization there. This is strategic planning.
- Managing action across the organization to achieve the vision. They need to review progress made against key goals and support the teams below them to overcome the barriers they face. This does not involve solving their problems. Instead, they should ask questions to help the team identify problems they will face. They should rigorously assess the rate of progress to determine if the vision and goals will be met. From there they can course correct as necessary. It is like steering the ship, and not going down to the engine room and shoveling coal.
- The third key role is setting out the culture of the organization. These are the behaviors that outline how the organization will work together. A highly engaged organization provides a compelling competitive advantage. The leadership team needs to role model and promote these behaviors everyday. People follow what they see rather than what they are told.
If leadership teams focus on these three key roles, they won’t have time to solve other’s problems. And by doing that everyone will be better off.
What is your leadership team doing? Are they trying to solve everyone else’s problems?