The Importance of Trust
Trust is essential in teams. Without it, a team is merely a collection of individuals that may get in each other’s way. Without positive relationships the mission of the team fragments into individual interests and goals, impeding the team’s ability to coordinate their efforts, never mind achieve extraordinary results. Without deliberately cultivating a team culture that feels supportive, team members may not express their doubts or concerns. They may fear making a mistake or showing vulnerability that may be held against them. Cliques are formed as people gravitate toward other members they believe share their interests. Ultimately information that may be vital to the success of the team is hoarded or fails to make it to the table of the group’s collective awareness.
Top management or C-suite teams have additional unique responsibilities without having additional time.
As a result they have less time to focus on their own team effectiveness. A vicious cycle is created as a company operates in a rapidly changing environment where they need to respond quickly, yet the quality of their teamwork may not support their aims or even get in their way.
Senior leadership teams therefore must also create effective structures and processes, including those that address the team’s culture, trust, and relationships. A team where interpersonal risk is low and high quality interactions serve the team’s agenda must be deliberately created and sustained.
Top teams are particularly tasked with clarity about the company’s priorities and the team’s mandate.
Yet research shows that alignment around priorities are quite low in many senior teams. Good leadership at the helm of a leadership team is no less important than elsewhere in the company. In fact additional high-level skills such as the capacity to recognize dilemmas and ambiguities, and the capacity to seek creative solutions for them, are more in need as the problems grow more complex.
Challenges of the Executive Team
Executive teams run a company and have similar and unique challenges:
- Higher levels influence that penetrate interconnected organizational levels and external stakeholders, which means escalated challenges securing commitments
- Higher levels of visibility increase pressure and risk on team’s decisions
- Must function as the buffer between inside and outside the organization
- Requires responsive and agile skill set for strategic planning and execution
- Dysfunction at the top team has organization-wide ramifications
- Formation of sub-groups and cliques and competition between them that often occur in teams is magnified in organizational dysfunction and silo-forming
- Executive team members need high level skill sets to help their organization to succeed.
The promotion path in many organizations include talented people who nevertheless have not had enough time to develop these skills, including the penchant to be reflective, analyze needs, devise creative solutions, and contribute to the team community. Qualities that contributed to individual success may detract from team success and lead to defensive postures which, at this level of the organization, can be quite costly to the business.