Development - Bringing Leadership Together
There are several ways for organizations to build unity within its senior leadership team to help an organization perform at full potential. As an organizational development expert, who have created team building exercises for upper-level leadership, I focus on communication, behaviors, and attitudes.
At the most basic level, an individual team’s success or failure at collaborating reflects the philosophy of upper-level leadership in the organization. Teams do well when leaders invest in supporting social relationships, demonstrate collaborative behavior themselves, and create what is called a “gift culture”, one in which employees experience interactions with leaders and colleagues as something valuable and generously offered a gift. However, before this can happen, the focus should be on communication, behaviors, and attitudes of upper leadership.
In order to align a senior leadership team, each member must learn that they are both a member of a team that flows vertically as well as horizontally. Their team isn’t just made up of those that report to and those reporting to them, but also consisting of their peers who have similar responsibilities. For a team to function effectively communication, behaviors, and attitudes are key. Communication should be more frequent than the occasional meetings. Although upper-level leaders may communicate more in their full-time responsibilities, communication between the senior leadership team is equally important. In some ways, it’s more important because if leaders don’t get their act together, the organization can’t achieve what it’s capable of.
One of the primary challenges organizations face when they seek to develop their leadership, especially more senior leaders, is convincing them that they are in need of professional development. While it is generally regarded as the norm that regular employees require ongoing development, once people ascend to leading others there can develop a mindset, often common among leaders, that they do not or should not require "training". In fact, they do, and their needs relate to both personal growth and job competency development. Organizations which seek to evolve and to compete must continue to develop the capacity of their leaders to lead well in spite of any overt or covert efforts on the part of those leaders to avoid what they often perceive as unneeded training.
This point to the importance of behaviors and attitudes. To first build awareness around both areas, during my leadership development workshops, I issue an initial assessment that focuses on three things; asking each member of leadership to identify their team, to see if they even view their peers as teammates, ask them what does effective communication on a team look like, and questions that help to identify current behaviors and attitudes of each individual leader. I then have them engage in a hands-on exercise where they have to work as a team, communicate, and where bad behaviors and attitudes can be easily identified as being counterproductive to the cause. An exercise where the leaders have to work together in order to get out of a seemingly impossible situation. After the exercise, I have discussions with them about their experience, ask them about their observations, and I then share with them the results of the assessments. Finally, I invite the leadership team to assist me in developing an on-going training program for their team. As organizations are continuously developing and having to face new challenges, leadership competencies, that serve the business, must be future-focused. Therefore, a good needs analysis will not just determine competency gaps that exist today, but the competency needs of the organization over the coming few years. Conducting a thorough, objective needs analysis helps the organization invest in leadership in a strategic way that maximizes the value of the training program.