One of the big challenges I faced when building my first leadership team was understanding if they were effective or not. That is partially why I built Weekly Update, a tool I use to keep everyone accountable.
1. Connect everything to measurable goals
The #1 issue in assessing effectiveness of the leadership team is when a CEO holds leaders to standards that were not clearly defined and documented. If there is no sales goal, how can anyone possibly decide if the VP Sales has been effective? It is crucial that the team outlines measurable, realistic goals so everyone is aligned on what the objectives are.
2. Get progress in writing
As the team is executing on the goals, there needs to be clear ways to measure progress transparently. Not surprisingly, I recommend using Weekly Update to have each leader share a quick written recap of their top objectives, status of each and roadblocks each week. This should be in addition to an engaged discussion in the weekly leadership meeting.
3. Look to results
Effectiveness ultimately comes down to results. If the VP Marketing is generating good leads, the VP Sales is closing new business and the VP Customer Success is retaining and delighting customers, something is working. Often, issues are more nuanced; for example, the product has lots of bugs so the customers are mad… is that the VP Customer Success’ fault? In this scenario, effective teams will work together to identify the problem and create a cross-functional solution.
4. Don’t take excuses
Bad leaders make excuses. Good leaders own up to their mistakes and find a better way. Being an effective leadership team doesn’t require that you have a perfect record of good decision making. Inevitably, even high performing teams make mistakes, go down the wrong path or poorly allocate resources. The mark of a good team is when you can identify mistakes, avoid excuses and quickly correct course.
5. See who is hired
The saying “A Players hire other A Players, but B players hire C players” usually holds true. A quick way to measure the effectiveness of your leadership team is by taking a look at who each leader hires for their own teams. Is your marketing team stacked with capable individual contributors who show potential for advancement? In this case, your VP of Marketing should be striving to hire people better than herself.
6. Be wary of good results but terrible culture fit
If you have a leader delivering great results but that nobody likes working with, s/he may not be so effective after all. Someone dragging down the team dynamic and culture is rarely worth it. There are too many other A players out there to be stuck with a “brilliant jerk.”