High-performing senior teams

Article 18 March 2022

The dynamics within the executive team set the tone for the entire organisation. If leaders aren’t aligned to a common purpose, if their team of teams aren’t empowered or can’t challenge, if the executive team doesn’t have open, more vulnerable, conversations themselves, or encourage others to drop their guard - the ramifications can be felt through the company. Executive team dynamics can create a culture that can stifle innovation, agility and collaboration; ultimately, it can be toxic. 

So how do senior teams start to move to more of a performance culture that is open, non-defensive, in service of a common goal?

Recently, as Managing Partner of our firm, I was comparing notes with the CEO of a global financial institution about this very subject. Her ask of her team is to be the leaders that become a unified team collaborating effectively together, working seamlessly across the complexities of the matrix and becoming a beacon for the rest of the organisation in influencing their teams and key stakeholders to align around their ambitious growth agenda. She and I discussed six keys that she and I want to pay attention to in creating a sense of joint endeavour and partnership at the top – in her large enterprise and in my boutique firm alike - creating a culture that then intentionally ripples through the rest of the organisation. 

Our first four keys centre on the human dynamics in the team – creating the vision, clarifying roles, contracting together, and creating the culture to work together to achieve demanding goals:

  1. Focus on leading effectively to achieve the vision and strategy of the organisation and creating and developing the desired team culture. These are not mutually exclusive; they are intertwined.
  2. Understand what it will take to more visibly support and empower the wider team, when challenges are called for. This is important in moving from an instructional mentality to a more empowered culture.
  3. Have productive and candid discussion on the team’s joint endeavour and value-add. Forge and deepen personal connections, build relationships and trust. 
  4. Partner across the business in different directions to explore how to work together, engage with a common purpose, and be collaborative – beyond the immediate circle.

Our final two keys turn attention to capability and building the collective reflex to sustain this high-performance culture:

  1. Develop alignment around collaborative ways of working and work together to explore and renew common purpose. 
  2. Develop better leadership skills through peer coaching, support and challenge, deep listening and catalytic conversations.

Here are a couple more articles focused on Teams and Team Coaching:

Your senior team's collective imperative

Enabling difference, finding common ground


Sheppard_Moscow_Headshots_130.jpg Ally Salisbury