How a CEO Can Ensure the Executive Team is One

Not a Team WEB SMLA team is a team, right? All teams share certain traits, skill sets, working in tandem, and the fact that they have a job to do and they should do it well, and get along while they’re doing it. Are executive teams any different? Well yes and no, maybe, and it depends.

It’s obvious that the executive team has more riding on its decisions and that it serves as a role model for the rest of the teams in the organization. Or maybe it should be obvious. It’s not always clear that the executive team sees itself in this light. In fact, executive teams are often not on the same page when it comes to strategic plans or goals. In fact, according to one study, CEOs see the executive team as performing well. The team, not so much as over 50% of non-CEOs think the executive team is performing poorly. So much for performing like a team.

Non-executive teams have others to answer to unless a decision requires an autocratic action by the team leader or department manager. What typically occurs in an executive team is that a decision is made, and the CEO assumes that everyone is on board and that action is being taken. Not so fast sparky. Often no action is taken, and the idea disappears into thin air. It may not even rear its head again until some crises occurs around that idea if at all. So much for teamwork.

CEOs agree that a well-functioning team brings higher productive with positive results. It is imperative that the CEO create a true team to be able to achieve goals and inspire other teams to become real teams and perform as such. Here are a few ideas:

  • Create a strategic vision and make it the focus of the team
  • Ensure the best selection of team members
  • Ensure you know each team member’s skills and attributes
  • Continually develop the team and team members must be willing to continue learning
  • Team members must be problem solvers and willing to work through conflict
  • Establish rules of how the team will interact
  • The team must hold one another accountable

These ideas help create real teams and inspire the work of other teams throughout the organization. Real teams, doing real work, producing real results.

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Graphic Credit Big


Herb, E., Leslie, K., Price, C. (2001). Teamwork at the Top. McKinsey Quarterly Issue 2
Quinn, L., Cahill, A.M., Lawrence, R.M. (n.d.). Are You Getting the Best Out of Your Executive Team? Center for Creative Leadership.
Rosen, R.M., Adair, F. (2007, September). CEOs Misperceive Top Team’s Performance. Harvard Business Review