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How to Assess and Improve Executive Team Dynamics to Drive Business Results

As CEO, you have senior team members wearing two hats, representing their functional area as well as the interests of the enterprise. We don’t have to tell you that when they get into the room for a team meeting, those two roles are often very much in conflict. This makes group dynamics a challenge. And good team dynamics are essential to team performance.

Research on qualities of leadership presence was conducted by Bates in 2013 to learn what qualities enable leaders to align, inspire, and move people to act. The findings showed there is a powerful lesson not only for individual leader development but also for executive group dynamics. A science-based model was then built to put theory into action and piloted in 20 companies.

Measuring how each team member “shows up” in qualities such as Confidence, Humility, Vision, Practical Wisdom, Intentionality, and Resonance provided a map of a team’s strengths and gaps. This enabled the development of a diagnosis and the ability to predict how the team works and performs together. The diagram below shows the results for one sample team. The green dots represent the strengths of individuals on the team, and the red dots indicate gap areas. Looking at it as a whole, you get a clear picture of this team—where they’re strong and what they need to work on to get better results.

Bates 6-1-15In using this approach to spotlight how this team works together, what hypotheses might leap to mind? For one thing, as a group, they are perceived to be pretty weak on Vision. That means that their discussions are probably more tactical than strategic. This is undoubtedly a point of frustration for the CEO. They probably also aren’t being looked upon as visionary by the rest of the organization.

In Substance, no one is strong on Composure, which means there’s probably a lot of reactive conflict in the room, especially in times of challenge or crisis. Imagine how that might boil over into poor decision making and personality-based tensions.

The good news is they score high on Character qualities like Integrity, meaning they basically inspire trust. However, since only some of them come across as Authentic, there are probably leaders on this team who disclose little about themselves, a fact that could hamper building strong bonds.

Looking to Style on the right, many are low on Intentionality. People may leave their meetings unclear about next steps and accountabilities, meaning they are likely to carry that confusion into communications about where the company is going and why when spreading the word with their own businesses and functions.

What’s helpful for CEOs to know is that all of these qualities are proven to be amenable to change. It starts with awareness of the strengths and gap areas. A leadership team that goes through a similar process of assessment and productive dialogue on executive presence finds many opportunities to transform and become highly functional, accelerating their work toward achieving enterprise goals.



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