In order to have a balanced executive team, there are 2 core pre-requisites:
Radical honesty and respect
A balanced team will have people with a variety of personalities, skill-sets and backgrounds. It’s critical that everyone on the team appreciates each other’s differences, is radically honest when something isn’t working, and treats their colleagues with respect. If that is missing, the team can’t be high performing.
A Players in every seat
I believe that an executive team must have an A Player in every position in order to be high performing. We are only as good as our weakest link, and we know that B players will hire C players. In order to achieve the balance necessary to be high performing, we first must ensure that the team is stacked with As.
Assuming that we can achieve those pre-requisites, consider the following 3 categories of balance that high performing executive teams should achieve:
1. Operational and Strategic
Well run teams need both strategic (big picture) leaders and operational (detailed) leaders. They work together in a symbiotic way, where the strategic leader will propose big ideas, and the operational leader will ground the ideas in reality by determining what is actually achievable today.
If you lack a strategic leader, than you’ll be able to execute well on the wrong ideas. If you lack an operational leader, you’ll have great ideas and never execute on then.
2. Internal and External
High performing executive teams need a mix of leaders that prefer focusing on the internal (company, people) and external (market, customers). The internal leaders ensure that the company is run well and employees are productive. The external leaders ensure that we are operating in the right market, customers are happy and we have financing to operate.
If you lack an internal leader, the market may love your product but the company will ultimately rot from within from lack of structure. If you lack an external leader, the market may never know about the product or give you the insight needed to build the right one.