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leadership team alignment

It Starts with “Us” – The Importance of Leadership Team Alignment

By Alysun Johns

“Leadership is a choice, not a position.” ~Stephen Covey

Leadership is indeed a position and level within an organization, but how we lead is our choice. More importantly, how we work with our fellow leaders can help us inspire the best in our teams, be true role models for members of the broader organization, and shape our culture in a more positive and Constructive way.

“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head—that’s assault, not leadership.” ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

As Uncle Ben from Spider-Man said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Sometimes, when a person is promoted to a higher level, they lose their grasp on reality and begin to go on a “power trip” because of their new title. When they become consumed with their authority and status, tunnel vision begins and the focus shifts to ensuring that “my team” is doing well and meeting performance measures, rather than how the broader team and organization is performing. This, of course, leads to silos and a lack of cooperation and alignment that spirals and leads to poor performance and, more importantly, signals poor leadership. Members of their teams begin to lose hope, and you can often hear, “Well, if they aren’t doing it, why should we?”

It’s important to measure the impact we are having on our direct reports. And it’s equally important to measure the impact we’re having on our peers.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” ~Henry Ford

One approach to begin looking at the impact a leadership team is having is to assess the team’s effectiveness. This can be done by working with the overall team while conducting individual development with each of the leaders to increase their effectiveness with their own teams. Through these nine steps, you can begin to see progress within months.

  1. Purpose & vision. Complete a requirement-gathering session to clarify the purpose and vision for both the team as a whole and the individual members’ development journeys.

     

  2. Team observation. Work with an outside expert to provide support to the team. The leadership expert can observe the team dynamics and individuals’ interactions to understand the team’s quality of communication, coordination, and overall performance. He or she can then help the team identify key focus areas that would elevate their effectiveness.

     

  3. Individual 360 assessments. Each team member begins their individual journey by completing a 360 assessment, such as Leadership/Impact® (L/I).1 L/I provides unique insights into a leader’s personal leadership strategies—and the impact of those strategies on others’ behavior and performance—to identify gaps between others’ perceptions of their leadership approach and how they would like to be perceived.

     

  4. Education. Coach team members to help them gain insights into the factors that make a leadership team effective. Show them how their individual behaviors and leadership strategies contribute to greater team success and shape the organization’s culture or the sub-culture of their divisions.

     

  5. Team development plan. The results of the 360 assessments show the team members the impact they are having on each other and connect it back to the ideal impact they would like to achieve. The team can identify the structures and systems needed to support their purpose and create a team development plan to help them move toward a more Constructive operating style.

     

  6. Individual development plans. The leadership expert carries out individual debriefs of the assessment results and helps each team member create a development plan based on their 360 results and the priorities identified as part of the team development plan. They also review the impact they are having on their direct reports and the manager to whom they report.

     

  7. Implementing the team development plan. The team can begin practicing refined and more sophisticated group processes and new one-on-one behaviors based on their team development action plan. Other assessments, including those measuring group styles and processes, can be utilized periodically to confirm the team is operating in a more Constructive and effective operating style.

     

    In this video clip, colleague Corrine Canter shares a brilliant case for using the Group Styles Inventory™ (GSI), a group dynamics instrument that allows teams to gain essential insights.2, 3 And for Rolling Stones fans, enjoy Corrine's opening observations.

     

    Download Corrine's presentation here.

  8. Ongoing coaching. Each team member participates in a regular one-on-one check-in with the leadership expert to receive ongoing support, track progress, reconcile individual development activities with team plans, and make any (other) necessary modifications in their development plan. Ongoing coaching can take place on a monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly basis to support each individual in their development efforts.

     

  9. Progress and evaluation. Hold ongoing, facilitated team discussions to track progress toward operating in a more Constructive style. A complete re-measure via the individual assessments and any group surveys administered (as part of step 7) is recommended to confirm the progress with respect to individual and team outcomes and overall effectiveness. Importantly, these measures should be connected back to business measures at the organizational level (such as turnover, customer experience, etc.) to ensure the movement toward a more Constructive impact is increasing those metrics as well as overall business performance. Based on these results, the leadership team and expert can determine the next areas on which to focus to continue the team’s development journey.

By going through this process, leaders can inspire exceptional performance, serve as better role models, and constructively shape their organization’s culture by working effectively as a team.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” ~Helen Keller

 

Notes:

1 Cooke, R. A. (1996). Leadership/Impact® (L/I). Plymouth, MI: Human Synergistics.
2 Cantor, Corrine (2018). Working Teams: That’s Culture. Presentation at the 20th Annual Culture and Leadership Conference. Sydney, Australia. https://www.human-synergistics.com.au/resources/content/2018/09/24/that's-culture-conference-videos 
Cooke, R.A. & Lafferty, J. C. (1989). Group Styles Inventory®. Plymouth, MI: Human Synergistics.

 

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