As a top management team aims for the stars, it might end up landing on the moon, if the core of its teamwork is not good enough.
A common problem with top management teams is that they tend to focus on the external matters of the team while forgetting their essential function, which is working together as a team. A true stellar management team ensures that it fosters a learning mindset within the company, while helping and inspiring its’ workers as well, instead of being blindfolded by focusing too much attention on running the business.
Vesa Ristikangas and Tapani Rinne, the authors of Stellar Management Teams (Routledge, 2018), have said that top management teams are too often working with secondary goals while primary goals are left unattended. Of course, it important to take care that the meetings are effective or that their direction is clear. However, to be truly successful in the long run, primary goals of the top management team should also be taken into consideration.
Competition kills collaboration
I’ve been working closely with a small four-member management team for years. Even though they are successful in many ways, there are also dysfunctions within the team. One member of the team is almost inhumanely result-oriented while two others are paying maybe too much attention to creating a pleasant working environment. The fourth member usually withdraws from conversation as the other three regularly end up on a collision course.
As an outsider, it’s easy to see how this management team is wasting their potential. Instead of utilizing diversity, they fight an endless war to find out whose approach is the best. Childish? Maybe, but it is still a good example on how mutual competition can take many forms in groups. The key issue here is that competition doesn’t prevent the team from being successful in the short term or getting things done. Regardless, the team has serious problems in creating an inspiring working environment that feeds an agile culture where people would have the space to utilize their maximum potential and spar each other.
Take off your eyepatches
The emperor has lost most of his clothes while posing in front of the people. If only he’d dare to take off his eyepatches and see that he needs to get dressed. Just like that, the management team needs to take a breather, stop, and look internally. It’s not hard to see the dysfunctional team dynamics; however, seeing those requires the mostly bravery.
As the management team, are you brave enough to acknowledge it out loud that we are standing in front of our people without being dressed properly? Are you confident enough to be able to agree with the statement if it was given by a colleague of yours? Does your team have enough competence to deal with issues within the team? Do you believe that there is enough trust in your team?
A lion’s leap towards inner development is all about taking a risk. That’s something Vesa and Tapani are stating in their book. To create a stellar management team, you need to be brave. You need to have faith that the developmental process will lead you past the moon and towards the stars. In order to do that, you might need the help of an executive team coach. If you do, that’s fine, because even Neil Armstrong wasn’t able to build the whole rocket by himself. He needed help to get to no further but to the moon.
Ristikangas, V. & Rinne, T. Stellar Management Teams. 2018. Routledge, London.
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Peter Peitsalo, Executive Coach, BoMentis Oy