Build Effective Leadership Teams

Over my career, I’ve observed, coached, and guided thousands of clients, from CEOs and presidents of Fortune 500 companies to entrepreneurs and small business owners.  Getting promoted to the executive level, or the c-suite is difficult.  In my experience I’ve identified three critical abilities to success: 1) building effective leadership teams; 2) expanding your spheres of influence; and 3) creating a success blueprint.  This blog focuses on building effective leadership teams.

Why focus on teams?  Today’s business environment is too complex to have all the necessary experience, knowledge and skills reside within one person.  Successful executives build teams that trust each other and have what it takes to achieve the vision, mission, and/or strategy of the organization.

I created the Leadership Preferences Survey (LPS), to better analyze how people lead and build more effective teams (link).

I’ve identified four basic leadership preferences—vision-centered, customer-centered, organization-centered, and people-centered. The goal is to build teams that draw upon the strengths of all four preferences while compensating for the weaknesses of each.

Vision-Centered Leaders

Developing new ideas, products, and services is the best way to move an organization forward. They lead by creating and communicating a compelling vision of where they wish to take an organization or group.

Core strengths are the ability to create new ideas, concepts, products, and services by making connections among previously unrelated notions. These leaders focus on the strategy, possibilities, and potential of a group or organization. They have broad knowledge and perspective and are future oriented.

I believe Richard Branson is a vision-centered leader. He was successful with his airline, Virgin Atlantic, but he expanded into entertainment and aerospace.

Vision-centered leaders are your link to competitive advantage; they keep you one step ahead of the competition by focusing on the future and what is possible.

Customer-Centered Leaders

Understanding and meeting customer needs is the best way to move an organization forward. They lead by focusing on customers and their problems.

Core strengths are the ability to see how trends will affect the current marketplace. They can translate firsthand customer information into products and services that add value. Customer-centered leaders are good relationship managers and excellent problem solvers. They are present oriented.

I believe Sara Blakely is a customer-centered leader.  Her Spanx organization delivers practical value to customers by manufacturing shaping underwear for women and men that helps them look thinner.

Customer-centered leaders link you to top-line or revenue growth; they ensure your products and services address a current need that will generate sales.

Organization-Centered Leaders

Building a predictable and repeatable system for delivering products and services is the best way to move an organization forward. They lead by focusing on internal processes, policies, and procedures.

Core strengths of an organization-centered leader are the ability to organize people and their work to get things done. They can translate people, policies, and processes into products and services that add value. Organization-centered leaders are excellent negotiators and know how to build effective teams. They can maneuver through complex, large political organizations effectively. They are past oriented, i.e., they focus on what has worked in the past and how to apply that to the present.

I think Ursula Burns is an organization-centered leader. Burns was the first African American woman to head a Fortune 500 company—Xerox. She is often quoted as saying, “No fancy words, bold bets, and back to basics.”

Organization-centered leaders link you to bottom-line growth; they add processes and systems that generate profit.

People-Centered Leaders

Developing people and providing them with opportunities to shine is the best way to move an organization forward. They lead by developing the people who work around them.

Core strengths of a people-centered leader is the ability to translate employee potential into products and services that add value. People-centered leaders are good judges of talent and excellent mentors. They can create climates where employees want to do their best. They empower others. People-centered leaders are present oriented, i.e., they focus on what they can do in the present that will prepare employees for the future.

I believe Shonda Rhimes is a people-centered leader. Rhimes guides teams of writers and production staff to create television shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal.

People-centered leaders allow you to implement the vision and deliver on your promises by identifying and developing your most important resource—your personnel.

Bottom Line

Ask yourself: 1) Which perspectives are missing from the team; and 2) what build, buy or partner strategies can I employ to close the gaps? Use the answers to these questions to build effective teams and accelerate your advancement.

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