When I sit back and think about leadership team development, I think about how I learned the ropes in my previous roles, as well as what I do and strive to do when it comes to developing the leadership at 9Lenses. Through the years, I have found that there are four main jigsaw pieces of the puzzle to fit together when it comes to developing your leadership team. Developing a leadership team is not too different from developing a team at any level in your business – these four jigsaw pieces that we are about to discuss hold true across departments, organizations, and even industries. However, the pieces themselves contain several additional little parts that you also need to piece together – building a team that leads your business is no easy job!
In one of my previous posts, I mentioned that there are lessons that you can take from the gym to the boardroom, and the one lesson that is apt when it comes to developing your leadership team is to “focus on specific muscle groups.” Focusing on muscle groups in the gym is known as spot training. In the business world, spot training means getting your individual teams in top shape. The particular spot that we are focusing on is the leadership of your business, which typically comprises the C-Suite, VPs, and department directors.
1) The Expertise Piece
Not too long ago, you could get a CXO who was an expert in setting the vision for the business and could develop a sound strategy. But organizations today tend to be flat. What this means for your leadership team is that oftentimes, your CTO or CMO would not only need to have a sound strategy in place, but would also have to roll up his/her sleeves and execute several parts of this strategy. Yes, CXOs also need to partake in some of the “grunt work,” if you will.
Therefore, even before you go to the market and work on filling up your leadership team, think about the right balance of strategy and execution that a particular leadership role would require.
2) The Recruiting Piece
Once you strike the right balance of strategy and execution, develop a new job description or revamp your existing job description to reflect the change. You need this before you go to the market and recruit your next CXO.
When hiring your leadership team, you need to set gauges. Based on your area of work, these gauges could vary immensely. There are some desirable attitudinal traits, however, that you should want in any hire, no matter which industry you belong to. These traits are especially important when hiring your leadership team.
- Ability to Communicate:
This includes how candidates convey, listen, and process information. They should have the ability to inspire and motivate their teams.
- Ability to Network:
Your leadership hires should already have good networks in place or should have the ability to build good networks. These networks can be valuable when it comes to choosing the right vendors, contractors, partners, and future hires.
- Ability to Problem Solve:
Problem solving covers a whole bunch of traits like ability to handle pressure, be creative, put out flames, and act fast.
- Ability to Participate:
Is the candidate you are interviewing willing to participate in the execution of plans and strategy? Is he/she willing to go beyond just his/her role and extend support to other departments if required?
3) The Onboarding Piece
It may come has a surprise, but even CXOs need mentoring and training! Check out this article in Harvard Business Review, which talks about how CEOs need mentors too. My company’s recently appointed Chief Revenue Officer, John Daut, was onboarded in just a week! No, he did not come up with sweeping changes and big plans in one week, but his onboarding was efficient because John made sure that our team members were aware of 14 key things that were important to him even before his first day on the job. He then used 9Lenses software to crowdsource and analyze insights from every single member of the organization. In just one week, he felt more comfortable with ongoing projects, was aware of every person’s role, and had a good grasp of where his input was required.
I take pride in the process behind John’s onboarding not only because he was able to establish two-way communication from day one, but because the onboarding was effective in more ways than one. According to statistics, “a typical company wastes $10,000 a year as a result of ineffective onboarding processes.” Use any tool or method that can reduce the time and cost of leadership onboarding.
Another important aspect of this onboarding piece is empowering. As a CEO or entrepreneur, you need to empower your leadership team not only to make great decisions, but also to empower their own teams in turn.
4) The Measurement Piece
Regularly measure how well each leader within your company and his or her teams are performing. I discussed how measurement is crucial when it comes to driving an effective strategy in a previous post. As the main force that drives strategy at any business, the leadership team needs to be measured against how well they have been able to meet goals that have been set.
I cannot stress enough that there are several crucial jigsaw pieces that create these four main pieces of leadership team development. It might seem like four pieces are easy enough to figure out, but in reality you will have to spend a substantial amount of time and effort to make sure the puzzle looks great!
Edwin has authored 9Lenses Insight to Action:A Social Approach to Business Optimization and Snapshot9 What’s Your Picture?:Accelerate Your Business Performance. Click here to download the first chapter of 9Lenses Insight to Action for free!