“To stay ahead of external developments and strategic shifts, leaders often need to reshape their teams.”
CEOs and other leaders are often frustrated by their executive team’s lack of leadership ability and/or their capacity to take on new assignments. To compensate, they either constrain their aspirations for their organization or try taking on more themselves. Neither is an acceptable long-term solution.
There are three typical causes for a lack of executive leadership ability on a senior team:
- A performance problem with a team member that has yet to be fully addressed
- Open positions on the team (either due to a lack of resources to pay for a new position or because open positions have not been filled)
- Underutilization because of intra-team conflicts or a need to use existing resources more creatively
Regardless, the solution is bold decision making and action on the part of the CEO (or team leader). That said, as a CEO myself, I am acutely aware of how difficult it can be to face up to and meet this challenge.
Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Said another way, the worst possible approach is to become paralyzed by an excess of caution regarding the possible negative consequences of a decision.
The fact is that there are positive and negative consequences to any decision and the outcome of any decision is at best uncertain. It is never easy to terminate someone’s employment. Creating a new role or changing the role of an existing leader will have collateral consequences. Maintaining the status quo reflects negatively on you as the CEO because your team members wonder why you lack the awareness or courage to deal with an issue that is obvious to everyone.
Here are five suggestions for moving forward to address team underperformance:
- Be bold. Trust your experience and judgment. Don’t overweight the potential downsides of a bold decision.
- Be creative. Pretend that you are new to the organization. Ask yourself what a CEO who was an outsider would do.
- Consult. Talk the situation through with several trusted colleagues to test your thinking and solicit their thinking.
- Be self-aware. Reflect on your feelings and make sure they are factored in appropriately (good decisions always involve emotion but balanced with sound critical thinking).
- Set a deadline. Decide and act. Research shows that taking longer to decide (past a certain point) doesn’t improve the quality of a decision. Make a choice and move forward.
Building an effective leadership team is the secret to the continued success of your organization. If you are looking for more from your team, call me at 763-545-5997 or email me at email@example.com to discuss how The Bailey Group can help.