Delta Associates has a strong track record in bringing alignment to executive teams that simply needed to take their performance to the next level . . . and to executive teams that lived in the business equivalent of armed and opposing camps. Contact us at 512-498-9780 or email@example.com to discuss how our approach to executive alignment might work in your organization.
Your Executive Team May Have More Impact than Your CEO
Executive teams have every reason to be aligned with each other and the organization’s strategy. Everyone who understands organizations realizes that an executive team may have more impact on an organization than the CEO. More than anyone else, executive teams have “skin in the game.” Their personal fortunes, reputations, and professional futures are often riding on their effectiveness together. If they fail they will all share in the failure. If they succeed, they will succeed collectively.
Yet executive teams are often notorious for their lack of alignment. In part the lack of alignment may be tied to lack of time. Senior executives often have huge spans of management control individually, along with a global travel schedule. They may see each other only for monthly meetings.
Lack of Executive Team Alignment Is Common . . . and Potentially Disastrous
Executive team members have most often been successful in a variety of organizations, localities, and roles. Their individual experiences in developing a successful organization may be very different from those of the other team members.
Call it ego or confidence, senior executives have gotten to be where they are by believing they are right, and that often makes it difficult to reconcile what they think with the thinking of others. It’s hard for them to deny their own experience by compromising with the other key players. Senior managers sometimes may also end up defending their own organizational silos rather than seeing issues from an enterprise point of view. Competing for resources and prominence within the organization leaves many wounded and scarred along the way. The wounds and scars of attempting to work together may have so powerfully and negatively impacted relationships that the prospects of reconciliation are thin.
Even if the description of executive team relationships is not nearly as grim in your organization as is portrayed here, you may still have the issues of clarifying roles and procedures at the senior executive level. You may just need to get on the same page. You still, therefore, need executive alignment.
Our Process to Align Executive Teams
We use the following process in achieving executive team alignment:
- We help the executive team focus on outcomes rather than personal issues. When executives begin to interact with Delta, we work with them to come to the conclusion that making their numbers is one of the most important outcomes they are looking for, and the results are better than retribution. Successful action is better than futile and and frustrating acting out. Once executives get together and collectively describe the milestones to success and how long it will take, they see their relationships as manageable.
- We establish the “hang together or hang separately” principle. Few understand the level of bitterness and resentment present at the founding of the republic at the Constitutional Convention. The aged Benjamin Franklin, in the midst of bitter conflict stated the obvious, “Gentlemen we shall all hang together or hang separately.” Even today we have our own version of the British army ready to take full advantage of our internal failures. Delta teaches that it is no dishonor to be defeated by more powerful forces. To be defeated by ourselves, however, is truly humiliating.
- We negotiate interpersonal behavioral norms. People truly come to organizations with radically different notions about how people should behave with one another. To one person a statement is a personal insult while to another it’s a spirited discussion. One person sees slipping a deadline as less than best performance while another sees it as a serious breach of trust. By putting a group of executives together and negotiating a set of norms that everyone commits to follow, alignment most often follows as well.
- We develop goals which are important enough to each member of the team to achieve. Not everything has equal importance to everyone. We identify those goals individual team members believe are so important they will overlook personal issues and develop personal commonalities to achieve. Often, although certainly not always, the members of the executive team finish their work together both aligned and as friends.