The CEO Should Evaluate the Executive Team

Your executive team sets the tone for the whole company. If it doesn’t have its act together, it will be harder for other teams to succeed.

Is your executive group achieving its potential as a team? You might have an intuitive sense of the answer, but you can better assess the team by looking at some specifics.

Consider these questions to help you decide.

When working through difficult problems, is everyone on the executive team open with his or her opinions?

These are senior leaders, they shouldn’t have a hard time sharing their ideas, questions, and concerns. And yet they do. People, no matter the position, still want to be liked, fit in, and avoid rocking the boat; especially if they think speaking up could create some career blowback.

Does the team have an effective method for finally reaching a decision?

Unless the CEO unilaterally makes all the decisions, the senior leadership team’s #1 duty is to wrestle with hard questions, develop options, and ultimately make a decision. Your team must have a process for making progress when there are a wide range of opinions and interests around the table.

Once a decision is made, does every member of the executive team fully support the implementation of the decision?

Strong disagreement within the team while making the decision is fine. It would be strange if everyone shared the same opinion. But once the team has decided, everyone needs to support that decision. This means publicly taking ownership for it and working hard to see it successfully implemented.

Do all the members work for the good of the whole organization or just the parts for which they are directly responsible?

It doesn’t matter how well the I.T. or Sales or Manufacturing functions are running. A team isn’t successful unless the team meets its goals. For senior leadership teams, these goals are tied to company results or the completion of strategic initiatives.

Are the executives genuinely happy when other members experience a personal success?

Another way of asking this question is, “Do people like each other?” It’s going to be difficult to answer this question for the team because no one can know what’s in another person’s heart. Perhaps you can start by reflecting on the question for yourself.

When people have made a mistake are they willing to admit it and apologize when appropriate?

This happens when team members feel safe in their position. Just because they occupy boxes near the top of the org chart doesn’t mean you don’t want them learning and growing. You can’t learn without making the occasional mistake.

If you could start from scratch, would you keep all these same people on the team?

This is the ultimate question. Changing out the players is difficult to do, especially when you think of them as friends. But let’s face it, the Peter Principle suggests you’ll have some people on the team that shouldn’t be there.

Executive teams don’t become high-performers by chance, even when comprised of individuals who are high-performers.

It takes planning and hard work. Are you ready to help your team achieve higher levels of performance?

We can help you assess the team and plan your way forward. Schedule a phone call to discuss your situation.

By Tom LaForce

Tom LaForce is a speaker, consultant, writer, facilitator and coach. Since 1996 he's helped workplace teams improve performance.