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Optimize Transformation: Achieving a High Performing Executive Team

Written by Terri Wallin

Transformation has elbowed its way into the lexicon of business buzz-words.  Many people think of it as change on steroids or maybe like a witness identification program for businesses that have fallen prey to the tried-and-true and are hiding from Chapter 11.  Transformation, in its simplest definition is a dramatic alteration from current state. And in order to optimize transformation, an organization requires a high performing board of directors, a high performing executive team and high performing employees.

High Performing_123rf.com.27823295_ml (2)Achieving a high performing executive team begins with the chief executive officer (CEO).  The CEO must possess the experience, background and enthusiasm to create and accomplish the vision for an organization. They must also be savvy with adroit succession plans because most visions are not built in a day. Sometimes to jump-start an ailing company a new CEO is needed; other times the CEO needs the training and support to develop needed executive skills.

CEO’s who are risk-averse often adopt a don’t-rock-the-boat mantra with business planning. Transformation seems like a Frankenstein creation of possibilities and risk and the old familiar seems…well, old and familiar, like family.  It can be difficult to attract high-performers to a cloistered environment of stultifying bureaucracy and it is high-performing people that make successful executive teams. CEO’s open to growth and life-long learning become increasingly comfortable transforming themselves and their business. They understand that the business world takes no prisoners and, bidden or not, they live in a vortex of change.

An exciting vision is the bait that draws capital and winners together. The CEO must to take the time to articulate a concise, clear and exciting vision statement. In addition to this s/he must thoughtfully create the organizational structure necessary to accomplish the vision. What needs to be done must be coupled with “Who will do it”, “When”, “Where”, and “How” will follow along.

Once the vision is articulated the CEO can begin to groom existing executives in their organization or begin attracting candidates from the external environment. It can be less expensive to retain and grow current employee but it can be like remodeling your existing house; a total headache. Also the time it takes to grow employees may not be a luxury the organization has.

Hiring an executive team is a thoughtful consideration. Tossing résumés into the air and seeing which one hits the floor first won’t cut it. It takes intentionality to screen internal and external candidates. There must be a mechanism to screen for the right fit and qualifications (more on this in future blogs).

Once the executive team is in place, the CEO’s role is now to ensure that there is absolute alignment to accomplish the vision. With alignment comes like-mindedness and enthusiasm.

When an executive team is in synch there is interdepartmental teamwork which is a requisite to success. It all rolls downhill; bought-in executive teams inspire department managers who inspire the employees to make it all happen.

Finally, organizational metrics are the cairns that let the executive team know if it’s on the right path. Metrics should look backwards and forwards at the same time. They should show what happened and what could happen if specific actions are taken to meet specific goals. Good metrics are like a good map, they can keep the business from getting lost.

Here is a summary of the top 10 ingredients to a high performing executive team:

  1. Clear vision
  2. Talented Chief Executive Officer that is a life-long learner and knows how to build capable teams
  3. Purposefulness in building a healthy culture not based in fear, rather respect
  4. Identifying organizational values and hiring people who fit and model them
  5. Continuous attention to leadership growth and development
  6. Hiring leaders who care about people in general and are customer oriented
  7. Hiring everyone for fit to the organization’s culture and vision
  8. Alignment within the executive team and throughout the organization toward the vision
  9. Attention to appropriate incentives and rewards for accomplishing organizational objectives
  10. Devotion to work/life balance for all employees

When an executive has the opportunity to create the environment for a high performing team, the organization accomplishes incredible goals and everyone has fun while doing it!

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