Creating a Strong Leadership Team

Get to know each other as people

The first step for all members of a Leadership Team is to establish some real person-to-person connections. Get behind the titles and rank and find human connections. You work best with people you know. When people discover their common interests and attitudes they begin to open up to each other. People begin to share what they really think, rather than communicate their “positions.”

Examples of a Leadership team


Example 1:


Example 2:                                                                                                                                                    



There might be a person on the team whose reputation has preceded him or her. Unfortunately, previous bad history can derail a team from the start. So it is important to develop appropriate personal relationships from the beginning.

 Overcoming Prior “Bad History”

Sometimes one or more team members have had prior experience with others on the team. If the experience has been positive, there is no problem. But what do you do when you have had a prior unpleasant experience working with one of your team members? This “baggage” has to be cleared out of the way if you are going to develop a constructive working relationship on the new team.

In most cases, the relationship can be improved. Here are some ways to try to “unload” that baggage. (If the issue is between only one or two members, they need to meet before the team begins its work. If the issue involves most of the team, have this discussion the first day the team gets together.)

  • Acknowledge the difficulty you have had working together in the past. Affirm your interest in finding a more constructive way to work together on this team
  • Take turns talking about what happened in the past. Be careful not to blame or make accusations. Describe what caused the trouble, and how each of you contributed to the problem
  • Discuss how you want the relationship to work this time and what each of you is willing to do differently to help make that happen
  • Make a commitment to “throw the old baggage overboard” and give each other a fresh start on this team
  • Agree to meet again soon to discuss how everything is going

As you begin to work as a team be sure to:

  • Spend time in your first meeting on introductions

  • Find ways to learn more about each other

 Spend time in your first meeting on introductions

One of the most important resources a team has is the collection of knowledge, skills, and experience. So your first task is to find out a little about everyone in the group. (After all, you will be spending time with these people.) You’ll be talking about issues with them and needing to make decisions together. What could be more important than finding out who these people really are?

  • What are the experiences of each person?
  • What knowledge and skill does each person bring to the team?
  • What are the outside interests of each person?

Often, getting to know everyone on the team can be accomplished by conducting introductions.

Conducting Introductions

The simplest method of introductions is to have each person, in turn, talk about what they do in their current job, their professional background, as well as some of the things they do outside work. This can include information about their families, hobbies and/or activities. Anyone else in the group who knows something about one of the people can contribute that information as well.


Divide participants into pairs

  • Pair each person with someone whom they don’t know, but with whom they will be working
  • If there is uneven number of participants, have one of the groups form a trio


Instruct each person to interview the other person in the pair. Have them take notes about what they learn about each other. Allow about 20 minutes for this part of the exercise, or 10 minutes for each person to be “interviewed” by their partner. Provide 3-4 topics for the “interview”, such as:

  • Professional background (“How you got to where you are now”)
  • Prior experience related to this team’s task
  • Personal interests (“What you do when you are not at work”)
  • Education and training

Reassemble the entire group

Have each pair take turns introducing each other to the group. Allow anyone else in the group who knows the person being introduced to add additional facts.

Find ways to learn more about each other

Even if everyone works in the same organization, take turns meeting in each other’s offices. If you work in different physical locations, it is useful to
know what each other’s work area looks like. This is also  an  opportunity  to  meet  any  key  support people.

People get to know each other better if they can take time to do something together away from the job setting.

Plan lunch or dinner together after a long meeting. Carpool together to an offsite meeting so there is an opportunity for conversation. Find out the interests of team members, and then plan ways to pursue these together. You don’t need to try to become close friends. But you will work together better if you are able to know each other as individuals—not just job titles.