I used to think that if you got the right people (meaning talented, experienced and committed) together as a leadership team, you could just sit back and let great things happen.
Qualified individuals are essential, but not sufficient elements to building a successful leadership team. What is the magic sauce? A mix of personalities, and the ability to listen and create trust and respect, gets us closer. Closer still is having the ability to be open, yet objective; passionate, yet realistic; and strongly respectful, yet aggressively opinionated. This begins to define a quality leadership team.
One characteristic often touted as a key to a successful team is loyalty. Although virtuous, loyalty has a dark side. Is the loyalty to an individual, or to the organization? Is the loyalty blind and non-objective? Is loyalty used to justify an individual’s actions or create a clique within a team? Too often, I have found that the challenge, “but I have been loyal…” follows a poor performance review.
The top dog– usually the CEO– sets the expectations, leads by example, manages conflict (and there is always conflict within a dynamic team), and continually readjusts the team based on business and environmental circumstances. Rapid change brings additional challenges. Individual team members may not be able to keep pace with rapid growth, externally or internally imposed change, or dramatic shift, in strategies. It may not be the individual outgrowing the job, but rather the job outgrowing the individual.
Dynamic teams must be dynamic. It can be hard, painful and isolating to continually optimize team membership. It is one of the most important and most difficult jobs being the top dog. Creating the right mix of leaders, monitoring the skill sets and commitments, and being prepared to make the hard, objective decisions define a successful CEO.
Could you fire your best friend?