5 Ways to Tell If Your Leadership Team is Effective

September 15, 2015 | Roger and Susie Engelau

And What You Can Do If Your Leadership Team Is Weak

As a business owner, your job is to lead, develop, and coach a team of managers that is collaborative, results-oriented, profit-focused, and moves your business forward… your leadership team.

Is your leadership team or management team high-performing? Or…

  • Are your meetings way too long leaving everyone frustrated?
  • Do the team meetings result in battles?
  • Do your managers get too little accomplished?
  • Are communications lacking?
  • Do managers operate in silos?
  • Is there finger-pointing or backbiting among your leadership team members?

How would you guess the participants in your management team meetings would rate the quality of those meetings?

As a mid-size business owner, it’s not uncommon to experience company performance problems due to lack of performance on the part of your leadership team. As a business coach, I find myself doing more and more leadership team coaching.

Cause of an Ineffective Leadership Team

Leadership teams are often loosely connected, not communicating well, operating as a group of individuals, and not accomplishing the goals they set for themselves, if they set goals at all. It’s a common malady among business owners of mid-size companies who, when the company got too large to run everything for themselves, created management jobs. They failed, however, to practice the strong leadership that coalesces the team. This results in problems with the purposes, membership, operations, and achievements of many senior leadership teams, says Noel Osborn of TEAM International, a CCL Network Associate. “Usually, by the time I get there, things are pretty messy; and if they weren’t, I wouldn’t be called in. There are conflicts, some lasting for years; jealousies; reservations to participation; and various kinds of back- (and front-) stabbing.”

How to tell if your leadership team is operating effectively or not

What does a high performing leadership team look like? Below are 5 characteristics or activities your team will be engaging in if they’re an effective leadership team. While you could argue there are more, these are the basics, the foundational activities:

  1. Meets regularly (at least monthly), everyone is on time, an agenda is followed, and usually ends at the specified time, i.e. a regular meeting rhythm is established.
  2. Every team member can easily recite what the company’s over-arching mission is and the company’s top 3 goals.
  3. Every member’s respective area has 2 or 3 goals that directly support the company’s mission and goals and they report progress against these goals in the regular team meetings.
  4. Team members raise and deal with frustrations, irritations, and mistakes directly and objectively vs behind-the-back conversations and maneuvers.
  5. After the meetings, everyone keeps the commitments s/he has agreed to in the meetings. Further, they trust one another to keep their respective commitments.

If you have a leadership team that’s doing these 5 things, your leadership team and your company, is prepared to handle any crisis that comes along. Better yet, they’re positioned to drive profit-focused results.

How do you get there? No question it takes months to get those activities and routines going. Here’s how one of my clients and I did it.

I’ll call them ABC Company. They needed to transition their $40 million business from the older generation to the younger generation. Dad, Mom, Son, Daughter, and Uncle formed a loose ownership team but couldn’t come together effectively or long enough to create a plan, hold people accountable, and execute. They’d battle in meetings that lasted way too long and accomplish way too little leaving everyone frustrated. We started by brainstorming what they wanted to accomplish in 5, then 10, and in 20 years—in the business and each one personally. Next, we pulled that together into a business vision. Then we created an organization chart to support the vision. There were some difficult conversations about who should go into which roles. Once agreement was reached on whose names went in which boxes, we wrote role descriptions. Now we’re helping individuals perform in those roles and I work with the CEO and the leadership team on leadership execution.

It’s a process I’ve used successfully in dozens of companies. While it’s never the same in any company, there’s a core process there that’ll transform your leadership team into a group of energetic leaders united in their passion around your company’s mission and driven to produce steady profits.