Many things must come together to create and sustain the growth of an organization including a good business concept and value proposition, adequate capital and investment, reliable suppliers and partners, a strong sales and marketing operation, an efficient production and delivery platform to get your service or product to market, and a talented workforce made up of people who are committed and determined to execute on the vision and strategy. Building and sustaining a viable business of any kind is no small task and while all these factors are important, we can’t emphasize enough the power and influence the leadership team has on the success or failure of a business.
Building a truly great organization that serves the customers, owners, employees, and community cannot be accomplished with just one or two great leaders at the top or one or two exceptional departments. It takes a tight knit collection of teams and people who are aligned, cohesive, and willing to do more than deliver on their own performance and KPIs. Leadership teams must be good—we mean really good—in order to resolve the dilemmas, uncertainties, and complexities that come with operating in today’s fast-paced and competitive business environment. Leaders within the organization can’t assume that building and leading strong business units or functions will be enough; they must develop an enterprise mindset and work together as a team of “enterprise leaders.”
Characteristics of Enterprise Leaders
A team made up of enterprise leaders thinks about the big picture and considers the long term when solving problems, making decisions, planning for the future and measuring results. Enterprise leaders know how to break down silos by communicating, building trust, and collaborating to create enduring emotional and strategic connections between functions.
Leaders with an enterprise mindset believe that resources and talented people are interconnected and serve and support the business as a whole vs. a particular group or function. Enterprise leaders know each other at a deeper level, share knowledge, understand what support is needed across business units, and want the best for the whole organization while they deliver the best results possible within their own individual function or area of responsibility. In short, enterprise leaders ensure that functions inside the organization run like clockwork: synchronized, consistent, and aligned.
How to Build Enterprise Leadership Teams
So, how do you go about building a leadership team made up of enterprise leaders who care about the big picture and support one another? At CMOE, we have been helping organizations build and sustain leadership teams with an enterprise mindset for many years using a proven process called “alignment meetings.” These leadership alignment meetings occur at regular intervals. Sometimes the meetings take place every sixty to ninety days or every four to six months depending on the specific needs of the business. The keys to successful alignment meetings are that they are held on a consistent basis and are implemented with a clear and specific focus. We strongly believe that alignment meetings must focus on three things to help build a team of enterprise leaders:
1) Working on real business issues and challenges that don’t get fully or effectively discussed and resolved during daily or weekly conversations.
2) Learning and reinforcing important leadership and team effectiveness concepts, values, and behaviors. This includes intense capability development and application planning.
3) Participating in carefully designed tasks and exercises that break down barriers and build trust and collaboration. This includes quantitatively measuring the team’s effectiveness. In the alignment meetings we facilitate, we use one of our assessment tools called the Team Alignment Survey. This tool tracks progress on critical dimensions: team member behaviors, strategy and direction, effective use of processes, trust, communication, and delivering results. The results of this survey provide the team with a score card and insights into the things the leadership team needs to focus on in alignment meetings.
We understand that ultimately it comes down to the will and discipline of each member of a leadership team to continually improve, develop an enterprise mindset, and recognize strengths to leverage and gaps to close in order to deliver superior results. However, the leadership team sets the pace and is the example for other teams and people in the organization to follow and emulate. Alignment meetings are a powerful mechanism by which organizations can build an enterprise-minded culture. Rarely does an organization fail in its journey to long term sustained success when the leadership team demonstrates an enterprise mindset and is unified and committed to the mission.