Getting an executive team to work together


How do I get my executive team to pull together and follow our strategy?

Sometimes it feels like open warfare in the boardroom. People are jockeying for position, playing each other off and trying to score points. But as CEO I need them to focus and work as a team.

What can I do?

Bad behaviour in the boardroom often stems from people trying to guess what is on the CEO’s mind and what might please them from one day to the next.

The best antidote is to be absolutely transparent and clear how you operate, what you expect from them and be explicit about behaviours you want to see and those that you don’t. Have you done this?

Some of the best CEOs play with an absolutely straight bat and everyone knows where they stand. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself until the message gets home. Of course, you’ll need to follow-through yourself on what you say or you will be giving mixed messages.

It is more important to say what you do want than what you don’t

That’s not always easy and it helps to ask your team to point out any lapses on your part and be grateful when they do. That way you are rewarding them pointing out potential confusion to you that you’d otherwise miss.

If you don’t like point scoring then jump on it when it happens and make it clear what you want instead – e.g. mature discussion and an atmosphere of open collaboration. The second point bears repeating: it is more important to say what you do want than what you don’t. Otherwise people are guessing and their idea of “not this” is likely to be something else you don’t want.

Are they fighting the strategy because it doesn’t make sense to them?

Remember that you need to lead by example at all times

Is it the right strategy?

If you feel it lacks buy-in it may be worth a session to run through, get all the objections on the table, work through them (offline and together) and then ask them all to publicly commit.

It will take time but it could clear the path to the teamwork you need.

Remember that you need to lead by example at all times. That’s far from easy at times but that’s why they pay you the big bucks.

Are you embodying the attitude you want them to have?

Are you pulling together with them or are you telling them what to do and playing them off each other?

Good luck!

Posted in Collaboration, Leadership.

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