The ten-member Senior Leader Team (SLT) of the largest division of a U.S. consulting organization with over $1 billion in revenue engaged Corentus for the purpose of helping the SLT improve their effectiveness and performance.
The team development engagement with SLT included a combination of team coaching, team facilitation and team training. The training and facilitation were deployed to teach and practice the methods and tools associated with the focus areas. Team coaching was used to observe the SLT using the methods and tools during their regular meetings and work sessions. Team coaching 'moves' were made in real-time, to help the SLT members become aware of how they were using the methods and tools and to further refine what they could do to improve their effectiveness and performance.
Four key findings emerged from this session:
- The SLT was operating in a leader-directed mode with members acting as individual contributors “reporting into” the leader who was the CEO of the division
- SLT members viewed their membership on the team as “representatives” of the business and functional teams they led within the organization and used the SLT meetings as a forum to provide updates and get their local needs met
- The SLT did not employ any substantive team-based methods and tools
- The SLT did not make decisions as a team and did not operate with a sense of mutual accountability
The SLT members reviewed the four sections of the Corentus Team Wheel and selected specific focus areas. They placed these focus areas into the following sequence and gave themselves four months to make the required improvements::
- Team Wheel Section: Collaboration
- Focus Area: Meeting Management
- Focus Area: Decision Making
- Focus Area: State of Mind
- Team Wheel Section: Mutual Accountability
- Focus Area: Ownership & Commitment
- Focus Area: Execution
The team development engagement with the SLT included a combination of team coaching, team facilitation and team training. The training and facilitation were deployed to teach and practice the methods and tools associated with the focus areas. Team coaching was used to observe the SLT using the methods and tools during their regular meetings and work sessions. Team coaching 'moves' were made by me, in real-time, to help the SLT members become aware of how they were using the methods and tools and to further refine what they could do to improve their effectiveness and performance.
Within four months the SLT made observable improvements in the effectiveness of their meetings, in their ability to make and sustain decisions, in their ability to keep each other accountable for commitments and decisions, and in their awareness of the impact of their states of mind on each other.
Seeing progress they revisited the Team Wheel again to select additional areas of focus. They realized they were missing a sense of common purpose and had no shared goals as a team. All of the goals were structured as individual member goals. They decided to define the SLT’s common purpose and its shared goals.
The facilitated process that ensued was challenging. Ultimately the team failed in its attempt as the members could not arrive at any agreements. The leader of the SLT decided to explore why this happened and realized that the main issue was the size of the team. The SLT was simply too large.
It is then that the leader made the bold decision to create two teams: a five-member Executive Leadership Team (ELT) that would focus on strategic matters and the original SLT that would focus on operationalizing the strategic matters. It took two months to put this into effect.
The new ELT reviewed the Team Wheel to identify what they would focus on as a newly formed team. They decided on the following:
- Team Wheel Section: Common Purpose & Goals
- Focus Area: Common Purpose
- Focus Area: Shared Goals
- Team Wheel Section: Roles & Competencies
- Focus Area: Roles & Responsibilities
- Focus Area: Authority & Decision Rights
- Team Wheel Section: Mutual Accountability
- Focus Area: Trust
Over the course of the following nine months, the ELT accomplished the following together:
- They generated the division’s 3-year strategy and operational plan
- They defined the ELT’s common purpose and shared goals
- They defined each member’s key roles, responsibilities and decision rights
- They continued to make improvements in the effectiveness of their meetings, decision making and mutual accountability
- They increased their levels of trust in each other by sharing the current levels of trust they had in each other and what it would take to build even higher levels
- They strengthen their levels of cohesion through a powerful exercise called Lifelines
At the end of this period, the ELT was able to say that the team development engagement led to the following outcomes:
“We show up at the corporate level as more of a cohesive and aligned team.”
“We can make decisions on difficult, critical topics and make them stick.”
“We are able to decide on and make key investments in cross-cutting priorities.”
“We are better able to ‘step outside’ of vertical responsibilities and work with each other.”
“We have a new belief the team can give up something for the greater good.”
“We more consistently engage our employees on key critical topics or challenging issues.”
“We are more supportive of each other.”
“For the first time we have a strategy,
defined at the right level (priorities and outcomes)
that is clearly aligned at a corporate level
and easily cascaded down through our leadership and divisions.”
By Alexander Caillet
CEO, Corentus, Inc.