The First Step to Building a High Performing Leadership Team


by Ginny Trierweiler, Ph.D., the Mission-Based Leadership Coach

When you are able to build a high functioning leadership team that is united, dynamic, and truly effective, you increase the chances that everyone in the organization is working toward the same goals.  And this allows you to massively increase your results and impact.

So HOW do you build that kind of high performing leadership team?

It is NOT just a matter of luck!  There are at least 10 things you can do to make this more likely– and selecting the right people for your leadership team is the first step.  And, it’s one we get wrong more often than we get it right!  The Gallup organization finds that businesses tend to promote the wrong people to management positions more than 80% of the time.[i]

What are we doing wrong—and what do we need to do differently?!  Typically, we select individuals who are highly successful in their current role, which may not predict their success in the role we’re hiring for at all.  The nurse who is the best clinician may not be the best nursing manager—the two roles require different skills and talents.  If our goal is a high performing organization that makes a great impact, we must promote individuals with natural talents for leading and managing—people who are most likely to be effective in the leadership role– rather than using leadership promotions as a reward for longevity or success in a different role.

In most cases, when hiring organizational leaders, you need professionals with strong managerial talents, including the ability to effectively lead and support the job performance of others:

  • the skill to build relationships of trust and open dialogue
  • a positive orientation toward challenges
  • the ability to understand each employee’s individual motivations
  • the perspective and skill to take action and make decisions based on what will deliver results for customers and strengthen the organization rather than for political expediency
  • the assertiveness to drive outcomes and to create a culture of accountability

When hiring/ promoting managers and leaders, you need to look for the talents and skills to do those things, as well as to be able to manage meetings, projects, and budgets.  In addition, it is increasingly important to select leaders with great capacity for facilitating cooperation in our increasingly networked organizations.

Again, our most common approach to selecting leaders is wrong-headed.  Often, we tend to promote the person who has been a star individual performer.  However, that may tell us nothing about that professional’s ability to lead so that their organization works very effectively with the rest of the organization—in fact, too often, the star individual performers continue to seek individual success, even at the cost of organizational success.

It is not easy and it’s not common to build a dynamic, united leadership team in which leaders lead in the same direction and even amplify each other’s efforts.  It all starts with hiring and promoting the right leaders – a) those with natural management talents and skills and b) those who are particularly effective at networked communication and collaboration.

What do YOU do to select the best leaders for your leadership team?

Next—how to use planning to get the leadership team leading in the same direction??

[i] Randall Beck and Jim Harter, Why Good Managers are So Rare, Harvard Business Review, March 13, 2014.


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