1. Get an A player in every position
For a leadership team to be high performing, you must strive to get an A player leading every functional area. There isn’t a way around this. If you don’t have an A at the top, than the individual contributors will end up as B or C players.
2. Collaborate to set quarterly and annual objectives
The leadership team must come together to agree on measurable objectives for each quarter and year. It’s critical that this doesn’t feel like a directive from the CEO, but instead a process where everyone has buy-in. Otherwise, the leaders will not execute effectively down the chain of command.
3. Create a structure for communication
Excellent teams are intentional about how they communicate. For strong leadership teams, this should include a weekly team meeting at the same time every week (I do early Monday morning). Each leader should also be writing a summary of their plans, progress and problems each week, using a tool like Weekly Update to share their summaries with the group.
4. Define cultural values and stick to them
Strong leadership teams have a defined culture. That culture might include work styles, when it’s appropriate to communicate and the best ways to ask for help. Be intentional about selecting and promoting the values that align with your team. Teams that stick to their values often perform best.
5. Work around travel schedules to find times to connect
Busy leadership teams are constantly on the move. My entire 7 person leadership team was rarely in the same room on a Monday. You need to be comfortable enough with each other to have zero hesitation in just calling, and be able to read each other’s emotions on a conference call. Anytime I was commuting, I’d try to call our VP of Sales or Customer Success just to catch up and see how they were doing. It brought us closer together as friends, too.
6. Schedule offsite event for strategic planning and bonding
Going offsite for big strategy discussions is an effective way to elevate the meeting’s importance, and give the team an opportunity to let loose and bond. These do not have to be fancy excursions. Having the team over for a BBQ at the CEO’s house once per quarter is a great start.
7. Hold every leader accountable
A leadership team can only be high performing if the executives are held accountable for results. That means delivering on commitments, and clearly communicating if something is blocked. This is where the cadence of communication, like team meetings and weekly updates, are so powerful.