The Unique Challenges of Senior Leadership Teams

Last week I facilitated an executive retreat with a group of dedicated, hard working, intelligent leaders with great pride in the company and the work they do.  As with many leaders, the magnitude of their goals and challenges requires them to work together as a cohesive, high-performing team, rather than a group of people reporting to the same person.  Your leaders may face similar situations. 

Senior leadership teams have some unique challenges:

  • They have a dual responsibility to the business unit they lead and the senior leadership team they are part of.
  • They sometimes have to “take one for the team” by setting aside their own agendas for the good of the entire organization. 
  •  They are usually comprised of high achievers with success in their own functional areas, and may find it difficult to seek or welcome input from peers in other areas.

The First Team

It sometimes requires a significant shift in perspective to see the senior leadership team as one’s “First Team”.  The natural tendency is to think of one’s functional team as being their first priority.  Yet at the senior executive level, all must collaborate for the success of the entire organization. 

Take One for the Team

Strong senior leaders are willing to put their own interests aside in the best interests of the company.  They realize they can’t have it their way all the time, and sometimes the needs of another department may take priority over theirs.  This may mean giving up resources or pitching in to help with problems in other areas. 

Be Open

Aristotle once said “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”  Great leaders are open to different perspectives and ideas.  They invite input on key decisions allowing others to have a voice on issues of importance.  In doing so, they expand their minds and learn to question their own assumptions and mental models.  It may take longer to make decisions, but they will achieve better results and greater buy-in when others have a chance to weigh in.

Many thanks to the senior leaders who participated in this recent retreat for their willingness to question their own mental models, raise difficult issues, and make commitments to their “First Team.” 

For more information on leadership development, executive team effectiveness or senior team retreats contact Diana Rivenburgh at drivenburgh@strategic-imperatives.com or +1.770.667.2660. 

The attached PDF describes the benefits you can achieve from our approach to senior leadership retreats. Download "Strategic Imperatives Executive Team Development".

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Last week I facilitated an executive retreat with a group of dedicated, hard working, intelligent leaders with great pride in the company and the work they do. As with many leaders, the magnitude of their goals and challenges requires them to work together as a cohesive, high-performing team, rather than a group of people reporting to the same person. Your leaders may face similar situations.

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