Why is it that it’s so rare to have an executive team that hums like the proverbial well-oiled machine? I had a colleague say to me the other day that human beings bring a lot of baggage with them, and that’s why it’s so hard for teams to function well. I can’t say I completely disagree, but there’s something much more fundamental afoot.

1.) Executive Teams need strong visionary leaders who can remind them of the big picture - Why are they here? Who benefits from this team’s existence? How are they representing their customers, employees, and external stakeholders? How can they stay focused on what’s most important, and make decisions effectively and rapidly as needed? How will they communicate those decisions to others?

2.) Executive Teams need incentives that provide a reason to collaborate. Rather than incenting individual contribution or division performance, executive teams benefit from shared wins. Do your incentives reflect the focus you want your executives to have on whole company performance?

3.) Executive Teams need collaboration skills and tools, not just the desire to do a good job. Often senior level executives come out of highly competitive academic experiences, and highly competitive career experiences. How do we shift the strength of strong performance as “type A” individuals to strong performance in collaboration with a team? It takes focus, energy, and practice.

Books I recommend if you want to learn more:

The Transformational Power of Executive Team Alignment - Miles Kierson

How to Make Collaboration Work - David Straus