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How to Build a Great Leadership Team: 6 Conditions for Success

Business World

Developing a great leadership team is the cornerstone of success in business. It improves performance and leads to more innovation without the need for continual prompting from managers or CEOs. But how are the best leadership teams built? It comes down to trust. If you don’t trust your staff - or worse, if they don't trust you - the chances of everyone working together are slim. A study reports that trust is a real problem in organizations. It goes on to say the top reasons for the low levels of trust are inferior quality work product, inability to collaborate or be cooperative, and lack of open and transparent communication. Great leadership requires more than merely bringing together a group of talented individuals. Addressing each area of concern to grow your organization beyond basic functionality can be a real struggle. To help, here are six conditions you need to build a great leadership team.

1. Define Purpose

A laser-focused purpose is a driving force behind an organization’s most important strategic priorities. It requires going beyond the goal of keeping each other informed. Since leadership teams set the tone and are responsible for turning visions into reality, having a shared purpose is key. It clarifies why the team exists, who they serve, and the goals to accomplish together. Going a step further to outline trust, respect, and dignity can help team members know how to behave and interact with each other. This is one instance when the leader must use their position of authority to define and establish a clear objective. To create and maintain a positive culture, sharing a statement of purpose in a way everyone understands leads to less friction and an increase in collaboration.

2. Outline the Operating Model

To take strategy from dream to reality, you need an operating model. Similar to a blueprint for a building, it describes how a team operates today and how it will operate in the future. The type of model you need depends entirely on the level of challenges you’re facing. If your objectives are generally stable, a consultative operating model can be useful. This includes exchanging relevant information among team members. Debating key concerns and challenges leads to new avenues of learning. It opens the door to providing advice and counsel, and can help to make strategic decisions more comfortable. Integrated leadership can work better when managing significant growth or retraction, such as during the launch of new lines of business or organizational restructuring. This is the more interdependent method and involves team members making decisions in their areas of expertise. For positive results in growth and diversification, collaboration and clear objectives are crucial for this model.

3. Monitor Metrics

How you monitor strategy, communication, and plan implementation determines how well a leadership team works together. Aside from helping your group improve, it establishes priorities for addressing challenging issues in the organization or among individuals. Without proper metrics, it’s difficult to stay on track. What you choose to measure to assess performance largely depends on the purpose and intent of the team. One factor that can apply to most is attendance. If one person arrives late, leaves early or decides not to show up, it can drag down the entire team. Helpfulness is another. Asking your group who has been the most helpful is a great motivator when done anonymously. It identifies the real doers and fosters a culture of teamwork. Communicate clearly what you want to measure and how it will be tracked, so everyone is on the same page.

4. Create Self-Awareness

Self-awareness describes how you view your skills, abilities, and shortcomings. Blind spots can prevent us from performing our best work. For instance, you might think you’re behaving one way while others may view your actions differently. This can affect the collaboration, communication, and performance of your team. To build a capable leadership team, practicing self-awareness is critical. Taking it beyond a personality assessment can help you truly see yourself through another’s eyes. Becoming aware of how others see you also creates a spirit of empathy. Without empathy, you can’t nurture a new generation of leaders.

5. Establish Open Communication

Open communication means having the freedom to challenge, debate, and discuss topics and ideas. It creates an atmosphere that praises creative solutions and promotes productivity. Unfortunately, it’s a rare occurrence in most organizations. Without hard work and a commitment to open communication by everyone on the team, feelings are hurt, and people can feel threatened. And when someone’s voice isn’t heard, or their ideas are met with opposition, the dialogue comes to a complete stop. When building a team, you play a pivotal role in how ideas are accepted among the group. If you demonstrate an openness to feedback, actively listen to different perspectives, and treat dissenting opinions as a natural part of communication, the team will follow your lead.

6. Set Accountability Standards

Being responsible for outcomes is a complex team dynamic. It’s essential to see the group as a whole but don’t forget that it’s compromised of individuals. The success of the team depends on the contributions of each member. For accountability standards to be practical, they need to go beyond measuring basic outcomes to include expectations of input, quality, and performance. Once they’re set, being transparent when sharing the results helps keep goals in focus so the team can grow and change accordingly. This requires patience as everyone begins to understand you’re not solely responsible for monitoring the group or resolving conflicts. Instead, each person should be held accountable for addressing concerns with their peers directly and respectfully.

In Summary

To accomplish great goals, you need a great leadership team. Building one requires you to take an active role in defining the purpose, operating model, and method of monitoring accountability. Addressing each of these isn’t easy. But guiding and nurturing a culture of self-awareness and open communication can lead to ongoing success.

Marguerita Cheng

Written by Marguerita Cheng

Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. Prior to co-founding Blue Ocean Global Wealth, she was a Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial and an Analyst and Editor at Towa Securities in Tokyo, Japan. Marguerita is a past spokesperson for the AARP Financial Freedom Campaign and a regular columnist for Investopedia & Kiplinger. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM, a Retirement Income Certified Professional® and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. As a Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) Ambassador, Marguerita helps educate the public, policy makers, and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning. She serves as a Women’s Initiative (WIN) Advocate and subject matter expert for CFP Board, contributing to the development of examination questions for the CFP® Certification Examination. Marguerita also volunteers for CFP Board Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC) hearings. She served on the Financial Planning Association (FPA) National Board of Directors from 2013 – 2015 and is a past president of the Financial Planning Association of the National Capital Area (FPA NCA). Rita is a recipient of the Ameriprise Financial Presidential Award for Quality of Advice and the prestigious Japanese Monbukagakusho Scholarship. In 2017, she was named the #3 Most Influential Financial Advisor in the Investopedia Top 100, a Woman to Watch by InvestmentNews, and a Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise (MBE®) by the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC). Marguerita’s mantra is “So many people spend their health to gain wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health” (A.J. Reb Materi).

Read more posts by Marguerita Cheng

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