What Makes a Great Executive Team?

What makes a great executive team? Think about your own team. How do they perform? How do you help them grow to their maximum capacity? Did you inherit or build your own team? How have you helped them develop their talents so far?

According to Harvard Business Review’s 10-year study (June 2017), a great executive team has four distinct characteristics. First, a great executive team decides with speed and conviction. Second, they engage for impact. Third, they adapt proactively. Last, they deliver reliably. How does this translate to your executive team?

Every great team has a winning strategy, and every strategy begins and ends with a great executive team. High performing leadership starts at the top by:

  • Having a relentless and daily focus on leading a successful system, department, and/or school,
  • Having the ability to build and guide teams to achieve defined goals,
  • Role-modelling desired behaviors to create a culture of excellence, and
  • Having a desire to be held accountable to clearly defined outcomes and measures.

Remarkable Team in Action

In education, our teams have a strong commitment to students evident in a shared vision. When we are laser focused on student achievement and consistently use our metrics to focus our work and decision making, we empower the leaders within our executive team to do the most important work: model the way and measure what matters. How are we consistently aligning our actions with our goals?

At the annual 2018 What’s Right in Education conference, Greg Gibson, Superintendent of Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District, shared a glimpse of what makes their executive team great. Each executive team member aligns and becomes an executive champion for one of their organizational goals. They are deeply reflective about the data they receive in a remarkable manner. “We are really bringing the data to the team as an expert, and then listening, thinking, and gaining a lot of more knowledge and information from our scorecard reports.”

Executive Team Development

We invite you to take a moment to reflect on how you use your executive team’s strengths. In addition, how might you develop and grow your executive team’s leadership?

Rate your own executive team. Do your team members:

  • Possess the characteristics of admired leaders?
  • Model organizational values?
  • Demonstrate active understanding of the vision and mission of the organization?
  • Achieve goals consistently?
  • Engage their team in goal setting, align strategic actions, and execute with fidelity?
  • Take responsibility for success or lack of success?

“It all begins with strong leadership engagement. The engagement of an organization’s executive team is the starting point and is the most critical element in the engagement of any organization.”  – Karl Moore, Forbes article, 2016

As you begin the new year consider how you might develop your team.  What would be one area of focus?  How will you role-model a culture of excellence with your leadership team?

Laura Swann, Studer Education 

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