Top team as the growth accelerator

As we get set to enjoy the year end break, here is something radical to mull over.

(The last week is usually a vacation or at least an easy week. And a few minutes of reflection -call it work if you like?, can be refreshing when you have a long break).

If you are prioritizing which lever of growth to focus on, do look at your executive team first.

Why do I say this?

Not because executive team members are not as competent as others in the organization. They are naturally among the most competent. That’s why they are there at the top. (And I never forget that it is this group that gives work to people like me?)

Yet, I say this for two reasons.

One is more in the form of an analogy that you have probably heard.

It was our first Prime Minister who had famously remarked: “If you educate a man, you educate an individual. However, if you educate a woman, you educate a whole family”.

My view is that when you enhance the effectiveness of an executive team member, you enhance the effectiveness of his whole team.

When an executive team member is at her best i.e. she can engage and inspire his team; excels in leading execution; can think long term and strategize etc., her entire team / division benefits from this, in terms of performance, engagement and inspiration.

If he faces any challenge in aligning his team, keeping it in the best shape, that’s when the help of others- internal or external to the organization, will produce real value as the team can see the leader as a role model and his keenness to raise their effectiveness.

Now take the executive team as a collective, an entity by itself.

When the whole team is truly aligned on the mission of the organization, it’s vision, the strategy and the core value it wants to live by, the spirit gradually percolates down to the rest of the organization. Over a period of time, the whole organization mirrors the way the executive team is functioning (#SteveJobs). And the results are spectacular.

Lest you should think that I am only sharing a personal view point, take a look at some of the studies.

First, the impact of an executive team member when he/she operates as an effective leader.

Besides what we see around, here is the excerpt from the research by Heidrick & Struggles on 3000 leaders drawn from diverse industries and functions, worldwide:

“ …Furthermore, leaders’ ability to inspire meaning and purpose in others not only affects their own effectiveness and the effectiveness of the organization but also has a notable positive effect on their team members’ effectiveness and ability to think about the future, which also builds organizational capacity.” (Karen R. West & Megan Herbst, April 2020).

Gallup ‘s research over 25 years has brought out that 50-70% of the employee’s perception of the work environment is driven by the actions of their managers. And organizations that take care to provide positive work environment, see improvements in customer satisfaction, greater innovation, and generate 25% higher profits than organizations that do not provide a positive employee experience.

The research by Vantage Leadership Consulting g ( Jacqueline Ackerman , 2023) on 50 executive teams found team performance to be highly correlated to the leader performance i.e. when team leaders are more effective, their teams are more effective.

And there are more.

Now look at the executive team as a unit.

New York Times best-selling author and an acclaimed management consultant Patrick Lencioni had remarked way back in 2002 “Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and rare.”

Again, Jacqueline Ackermanof Vantage Leadership Consulting avers “…In over 45 years of consulting, we have found that high-performing teams are indeed rare.  Many teams underperform or are average (at best), and while there are myriad of reasons for this, the role of the team leader in creating high-performing teams is worth exploring.

The leadership team has a significant impact on an organization’s performance. Effective leadership styles that align with organizational culture and values can foster a positive workplace environment and enhance organizational performance (Gomathy, Karthikeya, Sirkar and Sai, @International Journal of Scientific Research on Engineering and Management, May 2023).

And there are more.

Hope this is enough to establish that the top team needs to be right on the top when it comes to the growth levers for an organization.

The top team members being small in no., organizations can afford to pay personalized attention to them, as individuals and as a team.

Organizations can craft learning journeys that best cater to their learning needs – be it mentoring and coaching, on-the-job learning / action learning projects, workshops and courses to build right perspectives etc.

Learning activity has always been challenged for its #ROI. This approach may well have some of the answers.

Your thoughts are always welcome.

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