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Are you ready to transform your executive team from a collection of individuals into a cohesive unit driving your organization’s success?

Something is missing from your executive team and you know it. Your organization may even seem to be thriving, yet this success is an illusion that allows the issue to go unchanged.

Your team is failing because of a critical weakness that raises no alarms, but which is silently siphoning the team’s potential and negatively impacting financial goals and progress toward the strategic plan.

We have witnessed many amazing executive teams continually fail to reach their true capability because these fundamental issues were never addressed: lack of communication and cohesion; failure to operate as one unit; and insufficient dedication to ongoing development.

McKinsey & Company’s research substantiates our observations. The McKinsey Quarterly 2023 reports 63 percent of executives believe their teams are ineffective at collaborating, resulting in missed opportunities and wasted resources. Many organizations, even those deemed successful, are facing this pervasive challenge. Are you willing to discover what you are missing and start moving toward action?

Signs of Executive Team Failure

The executive team rarely, if ever, connects with each other in a group outside of monthly, bi-weekly or weekly operational meetings.
An executive who is failing to achieve key objectives doesn’t receive unanimous support from the rest of the team.
• There isn’t a lot of trust that has been built within the team, resulting in surface-level relationships between the executives.
There is little to no space for giving and receiving quality feedback in a way that is seen as constructive.
There is no time dedicated to intentional team development.

When one or more of these signs occur in an executive team, the diagnosis is clear: This is an underperforming team whose effectiveness will continue to decline or plateau unless the CEO steps in to change the team dynamic to working for the good of the organization, not their individual units.

In our 70 years of experience as executive coaches, we’ve witnessed the recurring challenge of executive teams struggling to connect and function cohesively. This realization spurred us to develop a solution that creates lasting change on the executive level, regardless of industry or company size.

What was the Common Thread?

To find solutions that work for any executive team, we studied a diverse range of organizations. We collaborated with government entities, healthcare providers, international technology firms and even a hospitality startup. These organizations ranged in size from a nimble team of 25 to a sprawling corporation with 6,500 employees.

Across these seemingly different groups, we discovered a common thread: a lack of connection between executives. Team members weren’t prioritizing building relationships with each other. Conversations revolved around tackling immediate issues and day-to-day tasks, leaving little room for fostering a sense of team unity and collaboration.

This focus on the urgent often overshadowed the important. Executive teams struggled to find a balance, dedicating the bulk of their energy to firefighting (operational fixes) at the expense of developing strong teamwork and strategic thinking.

What Were the Outcomes?

Our research indicates that teams were so intensely focused on daily crises that they overlooked opportunities for growth, thereby leaving potential financial growth, market share and business expansion untapped. Here are the outcomes we observed in these teams:

Limited Time for Connection: Executive team members weren’t prioritizing building relationships with each other. This lack of personal connection hindered the development of trust and psychological safety within the team.

Focus on Daily Tasks Over Strategy: Conversations revolved around daily tasks and immediate issues, leaving little room for fostering a sense of team unity and developing long-term strategic thinking.

Missed Opportunities for Feedback: Without dedicated time for quality and constructive feedback, conflicts continued to simmer, hindering decision-making and team collaboration.

Unexplored Strengths and Weaknesses: A lack of awareness about individual strengths and weaknesses limited the team’s ability to leverage its full potential.

Stunted Leadership Development: The focus on daily tasks left little room for developing essential leadership qualities like courage, humility and discipline.


1) DIY Improvement Plan

If you’re a hands-on, DIY-inclined leader, follow this three-step plan. This approach takes time and intentionality to ensure change happens.

Step 1: Prioritize Team Building and Communication

Leadership Alignment: Get everyone on board. Ensure all executives understand the importance of team cohesion and prioritize communication and collaboration over individual agendas.

Regular Team Meetings: Schedule dedicated meetings (beyond operational ones) focused on open communication, conflict resolution and collaborative problem-solving.

Peer Learning Sessions: Facilitate peer learning on key topics like giving and receiving feedback, effective communication and collaborative decision-making.

Step 2: Foster Accountability and Growth

Establish Feedback Mechanisms: Integrate regular feedback loops – both formal and informal – to encourage continuous improvement and transparency within the team.

Ongoing Professional Development with Coaching Options: Invest in individual and team development through training, coaching or conferences to enhance leadership skills and strategic thinking. Consider group or individual coaching as part of the development plan so that your team members are always in a growth mindset, becoming part of your organizational culture.

Team Building Activities: Engage in team-building activities (quarterly) outside of regular business. This fosters a sense of camaraderie and strengthens relationships.

Step 3: Making it Sustainable

Track Progress and Celebrate Milestones: Monitor your progress regularly. Celebrate successes as a team to stay motivated and recognize improvements.

Adapt and Refine: As you implement these steps, be prepared to adapt and refine your approach based on your team’s specific needs and feedback. This will only be sustainable if listen to your team and tailor the approach to your organizational needs.

2) Call in the Expert

If you and your executive team already have too much on your plates to take on the DIY approach, you can call in the experts. A seasoned professional executive coach will do much more than point you in the right direction. They will support you in implementing the three-point plan, walking alongside you every step of the way to ensure you have the foundation in place to be an effective executive team.

This article was co-authored with Barbara Greene and Aaron Wheeler.

Diana Candelaria Reyes

Contributor Collective Member

Diana Candelaria Reyes is a leadership coach, facilitator and organizational development consultant with 20 years of experience in aligning people with organizational strategies. Her firm, Candelaria Reyes Consulting, focuses on people development through leadership coaching, training, strategic change and alignment and diversity, equity and inclusion. Find out more at https://candelariareyesconsulting.com/

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