Team building exercises for building your leadership team.

First Days in a New Executive Role – Building Your Leadership Team

Written by on February 12, 2014

Organizational leadership has become a team sport and to be effective in managing a complex organization today leaders require a solid, cohesive team working at their side.  In all likelihood you have inherited a team of direct reports.  A high-priority action on your 100 day plan will be to get to know your direct reports individually and ensure all the right team elements are in place for high-performance. 

Start With Who

Jim Collins’ in Good to Great concluded that leaders of great companies “Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” In the first month, your organizational review, combined with regular one-on-one and group meetings with your team will all provide opportunities to observe and collect perspectives on which senior team members are the right people to be on the bus.

One client had inherited a team of five directors, two of whom were retiring within a year, one away indefinitely on sick leave, one vacancy and one who had joined the company in the past month.  She quickly focused action around succession planning and recruiting new talent for the bus.

Another executive, promoted into a new role, concluded that one direct report was not performing in the role she had been promoted to 18 months earlier. The issue had been tolerated or ignored by the executive’s predecessor but her performance was now impacting the overall results of the unit. My client recognized that, while the individual was under-performing, her strengths and experience could be important assets to the organization, so he moved swiftly to work with HR to find her the right seat elsewhere in the company.

Get Back To Team Basics

It is more likely that you are inheriting your management team rather than building it from scratch.  In either case, it can be an enlightening and productive exercise to take your team back to the basics.  I have worked with several senior leadership teams under the direction of a new leader.  An important first step is facilitated dialogue around and agreement to the team fundamentals:

  • What is our purpose as a management team?
  • What is the work we will do when we come together?
  • How frequently do we need to meet?
  • What is in and out of scope for the team meetings?
  • Are we clear on roles and accountability of everyone on the team?
  • How do we need to behave together to ensure that
    we work effectively?

Where Consulting & Coaching Can Help With Building Your Leadership Team

A coach or trusted advisor can help a new executive work through getting the right people on the bus in the right role.  A trusted advisor with strong facilitation skills can work collaboratively with the executive to design and facilitate a team-building off-site within the first 100 days with a focus on defining and building commitment to the team fundamentals described above.

Another approach is team coaching.  Rather than design and facilitate team-building sessions, the coach attends and observes during regular management meetings or working sessions.  The role of the coach is to intervene from time-to-time to deepen collective awareness of both positive and limiting group dynamics.  The coach works with the new executive and his or her team to find solutions and improve team performance.