Foster collaboration within your leadership team

N°188b – Synopsis (8p.) – Governance
Foster collaboration within your leadership team
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An executive committee’s ability to work as a team has a major impact on a company’s performance. What key drivers can be used to break down silos in the leadership team?

Most leadership teams are teams in name only. According to a study of 120 leadership teams conducted by Hay Group and Harvard University, less than a quarter of these groups actually work together as real teams. In most cases, the members generally stay focused on their respective domains of responsibility, with coordination ensured mainly by the CEO. Management committee meetings are seen as burdensome obligations. Contacts among the members between meetings are anecdotal or essentially motivated by power struggles.

Yet, the ability of a leadership team to collaborate effectively is a major performance driver with a significant impact on the quality of decisions, optimal resource allocation and effective coordination of cross-company initiatives. Managing strategic talent, building a brand image and targeting acquisitions are just a few performance areas where the leaders of a company can make spectacular strides by working together.

The absence of a collaborative mindset at the highest levels of the company can be explained largely by the myth of the “heroic” CEO. Whether a company sinks or shines, the knee-jerk reaction is to assign blame or credit to the guy at the top. Internally as well, the CEO is perceived as solely responsible for overall performance and for coordinating the initiatives of the various business leaders.

Observers of leadership teams unanimously agree on the dangers posed by siloed management. They also point out that determination and discipline are required to forge a real team! First of all, the CEO must prove his or her willingness to work as a team and thus to be influenced by other company leaders. This also means that these leaders must be willing to take the risk of contradicting the CEO at times. The right conditions must also be created to motivate each leadership team member to devote the required efforts, while they are already hard pressed by their respective duties. Finally, the right working climate must be established to capitalize on the diverse points of view represented on the team.

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