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01-30-17

#7: THE DISCIPLINE OF CANDOR

Every executive team has discussions.

Unfortunately, most discussions never really get to the heart of the issue.

Why?  Because executives are afraid to speak their minds.  Their need for self-preservation kicks in.  They decide that telling the emperor that they have no clothes would be a career limiting move.

We see this all the time.  We can tell that executives are “holding something back.”  We can see their discomfort with the discussion or the decision that is about to be made.  Yet, they are afraid to speak up.

Google just did a fascinating study about teams.  They concluded that “psychological safety” was a key component of high-performance teams.  It is this psychological safety that creates the environment for executive teams to have vigorous and candid debates about the company.

Psychological safety is the prerequisite to candor.  And the discipline of candor is the key to productive debates.

Creating psychological safety starts at the top.  CEOs must create an environment where candor is valued and opinions can be expressed without retribution.

Many CEOs struggle with this.  Having an outside consultant – such as a SHIFTPOINTS strategy coach – can help.

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies create a Differentiating Competitive Advantage.

PS:  After a brief vacation from the blog, we have restarted our series about The Twelve Disciplines of high-performance executive teams.  We look forward to your feedback.

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01-23-17

#6: THE DISCIPLINE OF TEAMWORK

In theory, every executive team is a team.

But in reality, most executive teams struggle with the discipline of teamwork.

There are many reasons for this. Executive teams have unique dynamics that make them unlike any other team in the organization. (More on this in the weeks to come.) Most function like a golf team, where everyone is playing their own individual game.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams operate more like a basketball team. They have a high degree of interdependency. They model unselfishness and demonstrate a “we before me” attitude.

You don’t develop this kind of teamwork by sitting in a conference room presenting PowerPoint slides to each other. You must spend time as a team working together to solve your company’s most pressing problems. You must also take time celebrate your company’s biggest victories.

A few Check Points for your consideration:

  • Does your executive team have a strong foundation of trust?
  • How much of executive compensation is based on overall corporate performance?
  • Are you tolerating any executive behaviors that undermine teamwork?

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies create a Differentiating Competitive Advantage.

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01-16-17

#5: THE DISCIPLINE OF EXCELLENCE

Every executive performs.

But most executive teams have at least one member who is not meeting expectations.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams optimize the performance of every member of the team.

This starts with high – and continuously elevating – expectations of performance. High-performance executive teams are constantly raising the bar.

They set high targets and challenge each other to get better.

Thus, every executive must commit to both individual excellence and continuous improvement. (I’m astonished by how many reach the executive level and then stop growing and learning.)

In addition, as companies grow and evolve, the executive team must also grow and evolve to embody the discipline of excellence. 

Sports teams are great examples of the relentless quest for excellence. They trade for players who can upgrade the team. They are constantly evaluating performance. Raising the bar is just part of the process.

Here are a few Check Points for your consideration:

  • Is every executive on the team really performing up to your standards?
  • Does your executive team have a culture of challenging each other to “raise the bar?”
  • What are you doing to help each executive develop their professional skills?

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies create a Differentiating Competitive Advantage. 

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01-09-17

#4: THE DISCIPLINE OF DESIGN

Every team has people. 
 
But most executive teams struggle to get the right people in the right roles.

As we discussed last week in The Discipline of Purpose, clarity of purpose is a prerequisite to building a high-performance executive team. 
 
Once the purpose is clear, you must apply The Discipline of Design.  Answering a few questions can accelerate the process:

  • What are the skills, strengths, and experiences required to accomplish your executive team’s unique purpose?
  • What are the skills, strengths, and experiences of the existing executive team?  What are your gaps? How can you close them?
  • What roles are required?  Which executives are best positioned to fill those roles? (Note: these roles do not have to be linked to the executive’s title.  For example, if the CFO is the person with the most experience with employee engagement, perhaps they should lead that initiative, not the VP of HR.)

Of course, there are many other questions that impact the design of the executive team.  The key point is that great executive teams don’t just happen.  They are designed.

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SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies create a Differentiating Competitive Advantage. 
01-02-17

#3: THE DISCIPLINE OF PURPOSE

Every team has a purpose. 
 
But most executive teams have never taken the time to clarify what theirs is.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams have a clear – and unique – sense of the discipline of purpose.
 
This seems like it should be obvious, but there are many different kinds of executive teams.  In the same way that each company should have a unique purpose, the executive team running that company should have a unique purpose as well.  (A church’s executive team has a very different purpose than a construction company’s executive team.)
 
To clarify your executive team’s unique purpose, consider three factors: decisions, outputs, and outcomes.
 
Decisions are the unique things that your executives decide as a team.  (Like approve bonuses.)  In some companies, this list is actually quite small, since most of the decisions are made by individual executives without bringing the issue to the entire executive team.
 
Outputs are the unique deliverables produced by your executives as a team.  These include things like corporate strategy documents, annual budgets, or organizational goals. 
 
Outcomes are the unique results that your executive team is responsible for as a team.  These include things like financial results or employee engagement.

Once you know your executive team’s unique purpose, you can design the team to accomplish it.

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies create a Differentiating Competitive Advantage. 

 

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