Executive development is the preserve of the top 5% to 10% of the organisation. And that membership has a tendency to morph and change over time; until eventually you end up with a well functioning team – at least that’s the plan!
To begin with there has to be (at least) one advocate of leadership team development at Board level. Why, because they’ll need to convince colleagues of the benefits of engaging with such a programme.
The idea that you can start with middle management and expect them to manage upwards is naive. If the top team don’t believe in Executive development then they’re unlikely to be open to what their teams have to say.
In many organisations leadership team development is an unfamiliar and unusual experience. And that can be a good starting point for a group of managers, coming together as a team, for the first time. Recognising that you’re all in it together, with the same intentions, just different problems to solve is liberating.
Moreover, unfamiliarity promotes creativity. So, a good facilitator will set up an environment designed to promote that. And we’ll know how to maximise the diversity in the room.
It can take a while for individuals to open up. They may be guarded initially. When they do start to share opinions and perspectives great things can happen; so it’s worth persevering.
Perhaps more so at executive level, you start with a group of ‘individuals’ rather than a team. And they will all show up differently. Some will be open-minded; others won’t. Some will embrace the discomfort of a new way of working together. While others will be thinking about how quickly they can dip out.
Over time the group dynamic will change and relationships will improve. People will start to enjoy the challenge of moving the business forward together.
The overall benefit of a strong senior team is the ability to align the different business functions towards a common purpose. Employees can see that they are working better together. And that promotes a happy and productive workforce.