Getting Leadership Teams to Deliver (… no matter what the business strategy is)

Spoiler Alert: It’s all about self- and other awareness that’s created or supported by people data!

Businesses often fail to achieve their strategic objectives not because of the quality of the leadership in place. When we look at people in leadership roles, they are well-qualified from an educational, experiential, and technical competence perspective. We make sure we hire the best people for our business, especially when they impact important business directions and outcomes.

What we don’t do as well, is use people data to intentionally and strategically align leadership’s behavioral drives with the behaviors required to deliver to our strategic objectives. For those of us who are boardgame lovers, when it comes to our people strategy, we often play checkers (where all pieces are equal) when we should be playing chess, where each piece is designed to play a specific role and brings different strengths and weaknesses to our strategy.

So, what can we do when our business strategy changes and we find that our leadership team’s behavioral make-up is not perfectly aligned with the behaviors required for optimal execution of our strategy? Below are some solid approaches we can take to better align the team to our strategy to have the best chance of success.

  • Capitalize on the team’s natural strengths – use insights about each other on the team (preferably insights that are supported by available people data) and discuss who on the team can act as a catalyst to drive the whole team toward the desired direction and results. That does not mean that leaders’ existing roles change or that the role of the rest of the team gets minimized. Some ways we can capitalize on team member strengths include:
    1. Formally appointing a member of the leadership team, who is more naturally aligned with the current business strategy, to serve in a project leader capacity; or,
    2. Intentionally seeking out the opinions and ideas of leaders who are more naturally aligned with the business strategy, giving them greater voice in the decision-making process.
  • Challenge leaders to flex and stretch around their natural behaviors – as leaders we need to be self-aware and willing to grow. We have the capacity to lean into our discomfort to drive forward a business strategy that is not aligned with our natural behavioral ‘wiring.’ For example, if we are a leader who is all about process, efficiency, and control, we can shift to a more of an exploration and innovation space by being more decisive, making decisions faster with less data, or focusing more on speed rather than perfection.  (We do need to be mindful, however, that asking people to stretch well outside their natural comfort zone and expect them to effectively operate in that space for long periods of time may be difficult to sustain in the absence of strong motivation and capability.)
  • Remember to look beyond our formal leadership team and leverage bench strength within our company – if we don’t have what we need in our top leadership team to drive change or get the results that we are after, we can look deeper in the organization to see if we have other senior or high-potential team members who understand and are well aligned with what we are trying to accomplish. Then engage them in all major initiatives that support the execution of our strategy, assign them to lead projects that support the organization’s alignment with the strategy, or put them in interim roles that allow them to participate in leadership team meetings, making the space for their perspective to be heard.

Business strategies often change to meet internal or external pressures, especially in the current environment, but leadership teams typically don’t. Does that mean we are doomed to deliver subpar results because our current leadership team is no longer well-aligned with our new business strategy? Absolutely not – with the right insights, backed by people data, and awareness about the team’s strengths and blind spots, we can put strategies in place to effectively realign the leadership team without necessarily changing the players.

If you want to gain insights into what your leadership team is naturally ‘designed’ to do and how to best align the team to your business strategy to delivery optimal results, please reach out to have a conversation.

Our team is a Predictive Index® partner, focused on helping our clients make data-driven people decisions for optimal business results.