Why Leadership Teams Need To Commit To Collective Results
Sustained success for organizations comes when its leadership group is working well together. But to get to collective results, leadership teams need to care about each other and have each other’s back. This requires a commitment to each other and a commitment to achieving the same goal.
When leadership teams have aligned commitment, they set goals together and help everyone understand their roles and contributions. To achieve those strategic goals, each executive is aware of how each of their areas may be heavily involved, or in some cases, may have to scale back their operations. Leadership teams, led by the chief executive, have a good grasp of the systems thinking that they need to get results.
On paper, this may seem simple. However, this does not always happen in practice. At first, everyone will say they want collective results and commit to supporting the team. That’s all fine in a neutral, unpressurized environment that’s harmonious. When there is disagreement and challenges, you need to pay closer attention to collective results and our tendency to revert to self-protecting and serving our personal interests.
Everyone plays a part, whether direct or indirect.
We all need to know how we contribute to a meaningful outcome. Setting goals as a team helps us know how our individual work matters. This also entails including members of teams who have indirect contributions, perhaps even more for them because the link between their contributions and the overall impact to the mission may not be as clear.
Thinking of your own results can be very tangible, but sometimes team results can feel ambiguous and not as relevant to you personally. I like to use the example of an IT department of a hospital. The goal for every department is to deliver high-quality patient care. Doctors, nurses and even administrators all play a direct role in doing this. However, the IT department plays an indirect, but very important, role in achieving this goal as well. They know that when they do their job well and protect patient data, the patients have one less thing to worry about. They understand their role and how they contribute to the organizational goal.
Similarly, leadership teams may have direct and indirect roles in achieving the same goal. Sales goals cannot be achieved in silos by the sales team. Each area, from product to operations, must work well to succeed.
Create a dynamic for commitment.
Besides the roles that are defined by titles or departments, each member of the leadership team also needs to do four things. First, each member of the team must decide to commit. Whether you agree with the goals or not, you might accept the goals and will of the group if you feel that you have been heard. Second, you must challenge each other’s thinking to enhance critical thinking and anticipate changing environments. A team of “yes people” cannot effectively plan for what can come next. Third, you must build strong relationships. When this exists, you have trust in each other to support achievement of the collective goals, even if it means sacrificing something you care about for the common good. Lastly, you must hold each other accountable.
In any organization, your number-one team is your peers, not your direct reports, which is why a commitment to each other is crucial. The impact of your own department would not be as powerful if they do not have support from the rest of the organization—and this starts from the top down.
CEOs set the tone for team commitment.
Chief executives play a big role in getting each leader on the team to understand the collective goals that have been set and the part they each play, whether direct or indirect. Chief executives are also critical in gaining influence on leadership teams to get people onside.
You need to craft language around the goals so they matter to everyone, or so they can each see that they play an important part, even if it is just keeping the other teams from being distracted by fires while the core team leading the project can focus fully. They also need to understand why one leader’s priorities or focus needs to wait for now so that the budget can be allocated to the highest need for the team.
CEOs must be fierce facilitators of the process of goal setting. To get teams to a real and clear commitment to each other, they must be in a space where they feel that they can share perspectives freely. CEOs must push the team to take chances. They need to draw people out and encourage engagement from each team member, even encourage disagreement to get to committed decisions.
Team members must be authentic and candid so they can ensure their perspective is heard and considered, and accept that it may not be agreed with. Own being articulate on your perspective to help your team members see what you can see. Contributions of multiple perspectives give the group more confidence that they’ve selected the best choice from many considered options. Despite your idea not being selected, it does contribute to the team considering all options, so share it!
Collective results move teams and organizations forward.
Collective goals lead to collective goal achievement that is highly fulfilling, growing confidence for the team and for the individuals to trust in each other. It allows the team to look back and reflect on where they started and celebrate their success. When you have collective results, you get meaningful achievements. You can get greater buy-in for future collective goals. You can push and challenge the team to take on more. Achievement of one collective goal then builds for the future goals to get to a new future instead of maintaining the status quo. When there is aligned commitment, everyone understands that we are here ultimately as a team to do something great together.