Seven key factors for making a management committee a high-performance team

María García Ruiz. Professor. IE Business School

31 October 2014

The inclusion of coaching in business practices means that management committees are now more committed to making their management teams shine more brightly than the sum of their individual members acting on a stand-alone basis.

Six years ago I used to often sit down with leaders of large companies and tell them about the importance of aligning business, culture and people to gain strategic leverage in order to achieve the best possible result for their organizations. Their responses were always the same. “You’re so right. We’re going to launch a development program for our second-level managers based on executive coaching practices.” The reply to my question of how aligned and cohesive their management committees were was “there is room for improvement, but now is not the time.”

Over the course of the last four years that response has changed. Management committees are now daring to look at themselves in the mirror. From my point of view there are two basic reasons for this. First there are far more development programs for managers, which has made second and third-level managers more demanding of their bosses. Coaching now forms an integral part of development methodologies   in the area of human resources, together with other, more traditional practices, such as training programs and mentoring.   Second, the complexity of the current economic environment has made the business model evolve. Managers have no alternative. The have to serve as the engine and example in order to achieve not only short and medium-term results, but long-term ones too.

Management committees have decided to share their vision and pool the company’s talent. In short, they are committed to making the team shine brighter than the sum of individuals acting on a stand-alone basis.

We have designed and built a combined development methodology: team coaching, group coaching, workshops and training pills, which we adapted to meet the specific needs of the management committees we work with. For 6-8 months we accompany them and we challenge them to make them a better version of themselves.

Our experiences have permitted us to establish 7 key factors that drive and intensify a management team’s capacity.

First – It is essential to start by building a reference framework which clarifies the challenges facing the business, team values, and the style of leadership that they wish to instill in members of the organization. It is fundamental that a common language be built among managers so that they feel the benefits on an individual level of working to together.

In order to achieve this the rule of the three Cs (Confidence, Confidentiality and Commitment) is an essential ally.

Second – Fostering individual self-knowledge and that of other members of the team. In order to achieve this you have to use different diagnostic tools with a constructive focus, which will foster the right kind of climate to start to work and will place a spotlight on strong points.

Third – Making managers capable of showing their vulnerable sides. Make them aware of their strengths in order for other members of the team to benefit from them. Place emphasis on individual talent more than on areas of improvement. Getting rid of the collective belief that managers have to be perfect is important given that it makes it difficult to build confidence, communication and innovation in the team.

Fourth – Helping managers to accept, rather than merely tolerate, diversity. Tolerating means “permitting something that one doesn’t see as licit, without openly expressing approval.” To accept is “to approve something, see it as good, and consent to it.” As Humberto Maturana says: “Tolerance is a transitional form of denial.”

Fifth – The team leader’s example is essential. In our experience, if the CEO has been through an individual coaching process, either before or in parallel to the team process, it guarantees success. If he or she has lived through a transformation and the team can tell by his or her behavior, it has a positive viral impact.

Sixth – Focus on a team development plan by promoting, in parallel, the individual development of each manager. This team plan has to translate into actions, responsibilities, indicators and deadlines.

Seventh – Generating an emotional bond within the team and going deeper into management of emotions is revealing for members of the team.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson says “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”



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