When I talk to CEOs, I often hear the phrase “as you can imagine….I can’t tell anyone here.” Maybe it’s sometimes expressed in different words, but the meaning is always the same.
When a person is responsible for leading an organisation, they adopt a specific perspective and it is inevitable that their views differ from others who have partial responsibilities in the business, even though they all are in the same boat.
Many times, this feeling is justified. Confidential information about equity transactions, mergers or acquisitions, etc. are aspects that, sometimes, can’t be shared in advance.
But, most of the time, what this expression reflects is the CEO’s perceived lack of understanding from the management team, regarding business aspects for which they need to count on the team, and yet, their experience tells them that they can’t.
The limited perspectives within the management team are responsible for the blame game that so often takes place in organisations. We’ve all heard the complaints about the commercial area for selling the impossible or selling with absurd discounts, or the production area for recurring quality problems, or purchasing or procurement for trying to save money where they shouldn’t or the financial area for controlling nonsense instead of focusing on what they need to or for harming deals for being mean…. and we could go on for hours, right?
These complaints illustrate a lack of unity in the management team and the reason is always the same: the partial views held by the business’s own management team. To a certain extent this is normal since the managers are working every day in one specific part of the business.
This is one of the most common problems in any organisation and it severely penalises performance. The first person who needs fix it is the CEO, as soon as these complaints arise.
The CEO’s first mission is to convey the business vision to the management team in order to help them develop the whole business perspective, the big picture.
The best way to start is by organising one or two workshops on the corporate strategy and in which all managers participate. During these workshops they will define values, critical success factors, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, etc. All of this will put them in the frame of mind necessary for developing a strategic business vision, and for agreeing a reporting system with all the key indicators that will measure compliance with the agreed strategy.
The development of a strategic vision cannot and should not be outsourced to any prestigious strategic consultancy. (Sorry, colleagues!). Expert consultants can help and assist in defining strategies and providing useful information, but they do not know the organisation or the market in the same way the management team does. And, more importantly, the developing of a shared strategic vision by the management team is key to the cohesion of the entire organisation.
A second important aspect is to create teamwork that fosters a sense of belonging in the management team and of commitment towards the organisation. To achieve this, the most natural starting point is board meetings, where all members of the management team interact. These meetings should be given the utmost priority, counting on the attendance of everybody, with no exceptions. The only purpose of these meetings is to discuss the successes and failures of the implementation of the strategic vision.
Outdoors workshops promote team spirit and can give very good results for a period of time. Socialising also creates links and is to be encouraged but outside the work environment.
The High Performance Management Teams program includes all these activities simultaneously, creating a powerful synergy that further enhances the results.
A cohesive management team promotes a cohesive organisation. A management team must speak with one voice, create certainty and clear direction for all employees. This clarity and sense of purpose creates a competitive edge that both attracts customers and makes them stay.
The difference between success and failure often lies in the details. A company in which all employees have a clear view of how the business is and what they should do, often goes that extra mile that paves the way to success.
To develop team spirit and a sense of belonging is part of a management job, and is key to profitability and success. And that’s a must for a real CEO. So if you are feeling very alone up there, it’s time to get down to work to fix it. Urgently.