Old timers will tell you that leadership groups are akin to Participation Awards. They’re full of people who aren’t good enough to be outright leaders so you put them in a group, give them a title and keep them happy.
At times there is an element of truth to the theory, however dismissing Leadership Groups as simply a ‘cop out’ is drastically underestimating their power.
This year I was involved in assisting several Leadership Groups, varying from sports to corporate and the learnings were significant.
Firstly Leadership Groups don’t work at the very top of an organization or team. You need a figurehead where the buck ultimately stops. This could be the coach or CEO depending on your structure.
However underneath the ‘top dog’, the concept of a Leadership Group, if managed correctly, can be your most powerful driver of success.
Here are a couple of non-common points you need to consider when building and managing your Leadership Group.
1. What are you leading towards? Most organisations/teams let the Leadership Group figure out where they are heading and then present it to their peers. Wrong!
The ideal process is to engage everyone on determining where the team is heading and the types of behaviors required to get there… and then fill the Leadership Group with people who have the ability to lead you there. It is crucial that it is done on this order.
2. Respected members. Without the respect of the people they lead, Leadership Group’s are bound to fail. The best way to avoid failure is to have the Leadership Group members elected by the people they will lead. This avoids the inevitable issues of favoritism that arise when bosses handpick their leadership team. It also ensures you have a cross section of personality types that will be far more effective in reaching and engaging all members of your organization.
3. Identify Threats. Every Leadership Group session should involve the following question – what could get in the way of our success? Some responses will be obvious, some more subtle. No matter how likely or unlikely to occur, they need to be tabled and actions taken to prevent them from derailing your progress. Leadership Groups don’t operate well in hindsight…they must be proactive.
4. Identify opportunities. Every Leadership Group session should also involve this question – where are our opportunities to do the following?
- Reinforce our message (where we are going and what everyone needs ‘to do’ in order to get there)
- Demonstrate our leadership.
- Reward performance
- Reinforce accountability.
This is where your ‘actions’ come from– what you are actually going ‘to do’ in between meetings. What you ‘do’ will determine your effectiveness, not what you ‘intend’ to do.
5. Vigorously review. Effective Leadership Groups vigorously review their own performance and constantly seek feedback from the people they are leading. There is simply no use forging ahead if no one is following you. Therefore you must be answerable to the people who put you in the position in the first place. If you aren’t then they should reserve the right to replace you.
6. Independent. Leadership Groups should never be seen as a ‘tool’ of the coach/boss. Whilst they must work closely with the coach/boss, in the end they work for their peers and must represent them to the coach more than representing the coach to the players. The difference is subtle yet important. In the end they should be the best asset to both the coach and the team.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list of Leadership Group characteristics. To get things right takes a lot of work, lots of guidance, but in the end they can quite frankly, be the difference between success and failure.
If you are considering a Leadership Group for your team or organization, first consider if you are prepared to invest time and effort into getting it right.
If you aren’t, and just think it will be a nice thing to do, then don’t bother. However, if you are serious about building a group, which will drive your teams forward…then get in touch and make sure you do it right.
If you would like to learn more, please contact us here or fill in form below. We would be happy to drop by and discuss how we help workplaces and teams flourish.
About the author:
Nathan Burke started his career as a schoolteacher before the demands of elite level football with St Kilda F.C. took over. Following a successful corporate career he founded Nathan Burke Consulting – a Melbourne based firm that offers High Performance Training and Coaching solutions to corporates, schools and sports teams.