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How To Get The Most From Your Executive Team

Gears interlocking

By Michael VanBruaene, Big4.com Guest Blogger

Your executive team is a critical element of your organization. You want each member, and the group, to perform at the highest level to sustain and improve your organization; and the functions and operations for which they are responsible.  Your and the executive team’s actions will affect how employees and work groups throughout the organization function.  To get the most from your team consider these guidelines.

Your Leadership.  It should be clear that you are “the leader” and fully accept that responsibility.  How you act and make decisions should demonstrate this.

Where the organization is going.  Clearly describe where you want to organization to go and how it will get there.  What is the strategy?  Describe how is each team member is specifically important to this effort.

Document and discuss their responsibilities and authority.  This is a good way to emphasize your expectations for each of them.  With their participation there should be clear documentation of their responsibilities and authority.  You should also inform them of the criteria you will use to evaluate their performance. Also identify grey areas and areas where responsibilities overlap and ongoing cooperation and collaboration is required.

Do this individually, but also as a group in a summarized format.  This approach will emphasize the importance of what they do and your expectations.  You may discover areas of overlapping responsibilities that had not been known and can discuss how to address them.

Transparency.  Executive team members need to know as much as possible (which should be just about everything) about the organization and your activities; and about each other’s activities and operations.  If there is too much opaqueness then distrust and dysfunction will permeate your relationships and the organization.

Executive team importance.  Yes, you should inform your executive team that they are important and why.  Granted at this level they should know that they are important and would not need this reinforcement.  However, as human beings they do need it.

Be authentic.  Be yourself and expect the same from them.  You do not have to by a high profile extrovert to be an effective leader.  All types work, studies have shown this to be true.

Set the performance bar high.  They are in key positions and by the very nature of the position they should be high performers.  So you should have high expectations for their contribution to the organization and their careers. Regularly challenge them to do more and not just more work activity, but also more complex work. To the extent appropriate provide the supporting environment, resources, and policies.

There is a saying.  Hire the best and expect the best. 

Remove under-performers.  This obviously affects organization viability and growth.  If you keep under-performers you are indicating to the rest of the executive team, your employees and customers that you do not have high standards.  This message will cascade down and permeate all areas of the organization and will affect the quality of your services and products.

Rigorous debate.  By example create and foster an environment in which team members rigorously challenge each other’s ideas, not their “persons”.  These discussions should focus on the concrete and facts, more than the hypothetical.

Delegate.  Continue to transfer to team members more responsibility and authority, whenever and as much as possible.  It’s a way to challenge them and you also have more opportunity to see who can be of most benefit to the organization, short and long term.  This also allows you to do more for the organization. 

Require accountability.   You and everyone on the team have to hold each other, and yourselves, accountable for your responsibilities and commitments.  There has to be repercussions when this does not occur.

Foster collaboration.  They do not have to be friends.  Just collaborate and work well with each other.

Team Building Programs.  There are many team building facilitators and programs.  Choosing the right one – facilitator and program – can bring great benefits to your team performance.  I have found the DISC (Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance) approach to be useful in developing team understanding, vigor and cohesion when delivered by a well-qualified facilitator.

Michael VanBruaene was a KPMG Director and blogs at  Michael VanBruaene – Working With CEO’s And Executives To Improve Their Organizations.  (www.AdvancingYourOrganization.com). He can be contacted at mvanbruaene@pacbell.net.

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