Every CEO knows that it is important for their senior team to be in alignment on critical business decisions. At the same time it is equally important to encourage innovation – to create the opportunity for members of the senior team to challenge existing practices and policies and put forward new ideas.

Healthy debate is vital to any senior team’s success, and then there is the time where debate must cease and decisions be made. At this team time, members of the team must be flexible enough to put personal interests aside and go with the decision that is best for the organization.

There are five critical factors that determine whether your senior team can get into alignment and work together to accelerate achievement of your Vision:

1. Agree on the role of the senior team member as distinct from their functional role. Each member of the senior team is part of that team because they have individual expertise and are the head of a function – finance, operations, marketing etc. The behavior and skills required of a team member are quite different from those of a business unit leader.

2. Interpersonal flexibility. Senior team members need to be willing to listen to other team members, and if necessary change their minds about the right strategy to take. A lack of interpersonal flexibility results in a significant waste of time arguing over personal agendas, and often leads to bad decisions being made.

3. Trust is essential. The senior team cannot function effectively without a high level of trust between team members, and between the team and the employees in the organization. It is therefore essential that the senior team consider the impact other of their decisions and actions on the trust level before taking action.

4. All team members need to be “on the bus” – in complete agreement on:

i. The organization’s Purpose – the reason it exists beyond making money; the Value the organization delivers to its customers and the community that makes the world a better place for them.

ii. Core Values – the guiding principles all employees must operate by for the organization to fulfill its purpose.

iii. Vision – what the executive team wants the organization to be at a particular point in time in the future – say 3 to 5 years time.

5. The Motivation to be a Team – the team must have a significant reason for existing. Many teams fail to establish a team performance challenge that is meaningful and important to all team members. Without it, there is no motivation for team members to expend the effort to adapt their behavior to be an effective team member.

Every senior team has many challenges to deal with. One of the most important is to determine what their team performance challenge is and to be committed to putting out the effort to achieve the desired results. The senior team will need a high level of trust and open communication to achieve this.

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