If I could just get my team to… is the start of many of my client conversations.  The sentence normally ends with things like, get along, talk to each other or work together.  Interestingly, it’s rarely “deliver”, or “work faster” – it’s always the dynamics of the relationships that are causing the most stress.  Bad team dynamics are more than a distraction, they affect your bottom line.

I recently worked with a company where the CEO defined an initiative to be implemented and said, go.  Behind the scenes, the executive team was bickering about how it was going to get done, who was taking the lead, and whose team was on first.  Guess what – it just didn’t happen. 

Executive teams are interesting beings.  There is an unwritten notion of a team, but often, the team members have forgotten that the first team they belong to is the executive team, and not to the team of people who report into them.  Don’t get me wrong, the team that reports to you is important, and you should support them, but not at the expense of the executive team – because the executive team is what is driving this ship forward.  

Here are a few key steps to take to address this.

  1. Listen to your team.  I have bad news for all you CEOs out there who think you have a pulse on what’s going on below you.  Your team would beg to differ. In fact, I spend a lot of time talking to people on executive teams, and what they tell me is this.  1) we (the executive team) don’t really get along, and 2) the CEO doesn’t really have any idea. Why? They either aren’t telling you, or you’re choosing not to listen.I know, sometimes it feels like babysitting.  I remember when I was a CEO, I said something to the effect of, “You’re adults.  Figure it out.” I just couldn’t handle the drama. We had too much work to do. What I failed to realize was how much impact those disagreements were having on the production of our work.  What I needed to do was follow #2 here.
  2. Look in the mirror.  What are you doing to perpetuate this situation?  Me?? Nothing!! Possibly true, but most likely not the case.  How often do you allow the end-around? Do you know how your individual team members act in meetings without you?  Do you weigh the opinion of one leader over others? Do you listen to the issues your team raises? What has your team been trying to tell you?  Rest assured that there is more they aren’t saying. There is a strong chance that you are inadvertently causing or perpetuating some of what is going on.  It’s time to notice it, define it, and address it.
  3. Investigate your mission, vision and values.  Is your executive team on your boat? I often find little armadas of individual row boats frantically rowing behind the CEO’s boat rather than the perfectly-oared 8-person hull we like to envision ourselves in.  Individual boats form when the value of what your executive brings to the table is measured by his/her own team’s success rather than by the success of the organization. It may be time to reiterate your mission and rework your reward system.

And finally, know when to seek help.  What I outlined here is just the tip of the iceberg.  Your team is vitally important to the success of your organization.  Let EXTEND help you create regatta-ready crew so you can get back to your job — and your team can deliver better results, more efficiently.  www.extendcoach.com