Leadership Teams: One Size Does Not Fit All

“There is no one ‘right’ type of team or structure. 

It completely depends on what a team is tasked to do –again, what it is FOR.”

Since the corporate environment today is not business as usual, a Leadership Team must continually re-examine and re-define how they work together as a team.  This begins with two central questions:

  •  What are we FOR as a Team?
  • What kind of team must we be to accomplish this?

Defining what we are FOR is different than a classic vision or mission statement exercise.  This is an active and honest dialogue about the senior purpose of our team – and how we align ourselves around a collective future.  This becomes the start of a journey as we begin to define the intersection of our leadership direction, organizational concern, current reality, and key priorities going forward.  Ultimately, it is about defining what success must look like.

Once a team has begun the process of articulating its senior purpose, it then needs to define what kind of team it must be to accomplish it.  And there is no textbook answer or one ‘right’ kind of team.  Simply put, the type of team that we need and how our leaders must operate together depends completely on what this team needs to do in the service of our organization’s strategic and critical priorities.

 Two key questions that begin to define the team we need are:

  • How interdependent must this team be?
  • Are we like a bowling team where each member adds up their individual score (low interdependence) or a Navy Seal Team whose very lives depend on one another (high interdependence but very rare)?

Most teams liken themselves to a sports team where there is a strong sense of role, coordination, and how the game is played (moderate interdependence).  But in virtually every case, Leadership Teams say that they have to operate with greater interdependence as the “game” gets more complex and faster.  This is true of most of the best teams I’ve worked with.  So the discussion has to be about where greater connectedness and collaboration is necessary and what we must do to get there.

Some other key questions include:

  • How do we best reach across functions and geographies?
  • Where are our critical intersections with one another and how do we optimize them?
  • How do we work together to lead the organization in these times?
  • What does it mean to be a leader in this company today?

While these questions sound simple, there are no easy answers.  This is a process of iterative and compelling dialogue, as there is no one right way to design a team.

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