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Congratulations! You weathered the economic storm of 2009 and kept your corporate ship afloat. As the saying goes, a high tide floats all boats – it’s when the water levels go down the skipper is really tested. Last year was the lowest tide in decades. Year end typically saw businesses holding on to the company’s remaining cash, running break-even budgets, feeling hesitant over how much they had already lost and fearful of losing more.
But even if you did hit a few rocks and took on water you should be proud. You made it. You passed a true test of leadership. And now, the next test is upon us.
This year, if you are like most leaders, you have come to the stark realization that the wait-and-see strategy will not carry the company long-term. Waiting for your customers to recover and assuming all will go ‘back to normal’ is charting a dangerous course. You are in business to make money. So, you want to move your leaders past hesitancy and fear, and have them stepping back into the innovation and buoyancy of 2008. One of the most significant challenges you now face is how to inspire everyone around you to change their perspective.
Some of your people are still huddled below decks, afraid to open the hatch for fear of capsizing. You want them to take a look around, feel the sunlight on their faces again and smell the fresh air. But for them, the promise of clear skies is tempered by the fear of further economic storms. For the leader that sees the opportunity today, how do you get the team to act?
Whether you navigate a sailboat or on ocean freighter, recognize that the captain and his crew are fallible human beings. Leadership teams are made up of real people and by nature, they can be charged with politics and personal agendas, and sometimes confusion can be more the rule than the exception. It’s rare I meet a leader that questions the importance of teamwork. Far more common is the leader who chooses not to work on improving the team’s function because they believe it is too difficult a journey to undertake and the results are not measurable.
Forging a high performance senior team is accomplished by using a best practice approach combined with discipline and persistence. The first step is to understand that there are five dysfunctions to contend with then, addressing those dysfunctions one at a time.
As a participant in countless change initiatives in a variety of industries, one consistent ‘truth’ is that there is no greater indicator of the potential for success than the strength and attitude of the leadership and the management team.
Perhaps you are now thinking, “Show me the numbers. I’ve got a bottom line to consider and we can’t take risks right now. We simply don’t have time for this soft stuff.”
These are questions that every single team member should be able to answer off the top of their heads. If yours can’t, is it possible there are better ways to spend your team’s time? Are management meetings boring and unproductive by nature? If so, why do the most successful companies hold meetings at all? Is there evidence that a strong team will always outperform a strong individual?
Cohesive management teams address the most important issues quickly and decisively. The courses of action they forge are higher in quality, simple to measure, and produce tangible positive results. When these teams fail, it is due to deliberate decision making, not analysis paralysis or procrastination. Most importantly, they learn from their errors and do not repeat them. As a result of this environment, companies with great management teams experience an uptick in their ability to attract and retain the most talented management staff available.