CEO's Tolerate Executive Dysfunction at your Peril! | Stepshift

CEO’s Tolerate Executive Dysfunction at your Peril!

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

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When organisations have something significant they need to accomplish – achieving growth in existing and new markets, restructuring or implementing a significant change initiative – the performance and functionality of the leadership team is critical.

If excessive energy is directed at internal infighting, politics or undermining behaviour, the critical organisation objectives will be compromised. The CEO plays a key role here in setting or facilitating the framework for leadership behaviours and dynamics that can rightly be expected and demanded of senior people.

I should be clear here that the ideal is not a team where everyone gets on fabulously, has similar views and styles. The ideal is a team of leaders with some richness of skills, backgrounds and styles, a team who understand how to play to their strengths and the strengths of their colleagues, a team who know how to challenge each other where appropriate and a team that continues to build relationships based on trust and respect.

Red flags for a CEO in regard to their senior team may include:

  • Silo behaviour. Not involving or communicating with certain colleagues where a collaborative approach would be best for clients and/or the business.
  • Communication. Little disagreement in team meetings but a sense that post meeting discussions with smaller groups may see quite different opinions expressed.
  • Behaviour. Dysfunctional behaviours being demonstrated regularly and a sense of playing the person and not the ball.

Where one more of these elements of dysfunction are in play, the CEO needs to play a key role in ensuring an initiative is put in place to address this dysfunction. The starting point for this is often an honest assessment of team dynamics and clarifying for executive team members that their role carries a responsibility to behave as an executive team member.

Where levels of executive team dysfunction exist, addressing these versus tolerating them will significantly impact the performance of the executive team and the performance of the wider staff that those executives interact with.

If as a CEO you have a lot to achieve in your organisation, ask yourself honestly how much of the leadership team horsepower is being directed towards that achievement, and how much is being wasted by unnecessary wheel spinning.

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