The Executive Team – Least Cared For, But Most Critical Group in Any Change

/ Christine Andrukonis

Whether dealing with a strategic, cultural or digital transformation, the key to success starts with putting people at the center.  The best practice is to meet people where they are then get them onboard by sharing your long-term vision.  

For an internal transformation, we divide people into four key groups: leaders, managers, employees, and business partners. 

Leaders are easy – they are already informed, aligned, and ready to roll…right? 

Not so fast. 

Leaders, especially those at the C-level, are often overseeing change initiatives.  It stands to reason that they understand the big-picture vision, the strategy and rationale, and their responsibility to lead forward as strong advocates. 

However, when leaders must change their own behaviors, individually or as a team, the job becomes a lot tougher. That transition can make or break the success of your transformation. 

It’s time to stop taking this group for granted and invest the time, energy and resources in preparing them to really take the reins of change. 

A Three-Tier Approach to Caring for the Executive Team 

Helping executive teams change how they are thinking, feeling, and working has been instrumental in driving successful change across their organization. Here are three proven strategies when, used in combination, can make a meaningful difference. 

  1. One-on-one coaching.  Give executives a “safe space” in the form of a third-party coach who can help them consider what they themselves need to start, stop, and continue doing to unlock progress and momentum for their organizations. Enable them to meet with their change coach for the duration of the transformation to reflect on what’s working and what’s getting in the way. This will help the build their own confidence and ability to lead. 
  2. Team effectiveness.  As a group, executives can be aligned on the big picture, but once they get into some of the thorny details of the implementation, they find that their interests and objectives can be at odds with each other. Power struggles can ensue. Political ploys are generating. And trust can be tested at a tie when trust is more important than ever.  Help the team reflect on where its collaboration strong, and where collaboration and trust are falling short. If they work through the improvements, it will have a significant impact on the outcome of the transformation. 
  3. Time and space. Give the executive team time and space to see how their ways of working can differ across organizations. Help them translate what they’re learning in their coaching and team effectiveness sessions and apply it to the roles, responsibilities, processes, handoffs, and inter-dependencies. Work it out and be ready to communicate expectations. 

This three-tiered approach is a cornerstone for success and can exponentially unlock benefits for all the stakeholders affected by the transformation.   

Unfortunately, the step of prepping leaders is often skipped, avoided, or short-changed due to a number of factors – not least of which is that it can be difficult and time-consuming for busy execs. But the opposite is true. While organizations focus on change impacts deeper into their organizations, long-term, lasting success starts at the top of the house.  

Categories: Change, Leadership