Creating a Strong Leadership Team

Agree on major results

Step one in developing a vision is to identify the results the project or organization must achieve in order to be successful. For each member, the list may be slightly different. The shared vision must encompass all results deemed important, so every member of a leadership team can fully commit to supporting and meeting it.

To obtain agreement on major results you should:

  • Discuss what is known about this effort
  • Define “success” for this effort
  • Develop and maintain a vision statement
  • Determine major strategies and set broad goals

Discuss what is known about this effort

When a leadership team first forms, each member has somewhat different information about the project or organization. An early discussion should be held among the team members to pool any information each has about:

  • The customer or customers
  • The market
  • Organization expectations
  • Schedule and cost requirements

Discussion of these key drivers will enable you to gain as much insight as possible into the overall project or organization this team will lead.

Identifying Key Program or Organization “Drivers”

It is important to identify key program or organization drivers. The following list should help your team move toward agreement on major results the project/organization should achieve.

  • The customer or customers – Who will use this product? What is important to them? What do they expect?
  • The market – What is the demand for the organization or project’s product or service? With whom are you competing? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the competition compared to your own?
  • Organization expectations – What is important to each member’s organization?  For what will each leader be held accountable? In multi-organization leadership teams, team members may be able to help each other meet organization goals that fall outside the team goal if they are aware of them.
  • Schedule and cost requirements – What are the critical dates the project or organization must meet? How flexible are any of these dates? What cost targets exist? While it may not be possible for leaders from different organizations to share specific information about their costs or budget, they should share as much as their organization allows.

Define “Success” for this effort

A key part of establishing a shared vision for the program/organization is to envision what success looks like. Brainstorm a list of “what our customer(s) and our organization will say when we’re done.”

There may be different items on each list like “making a profit” (organization list) & “low cost” (customer list). Some items may be same like “a product that works.” It is important to review every proposed items and agree on a final set for the organization and for the customer.

Though simple in concept, brainstorming can be a launching pad to define success for your team’s efforts.

Develop and maintain a vision statement

A vision statement captures the essence of the discussions a leadership team has had on the program/organization drivers and the definition of success. This statement articulates what the project or organization is striving to become once its purpose and values are fulfilled.

After this statement has been created,  it must be communicated and discussed with all members of the project or organization. Through this discussion process, the vision becomes a shared vision. People can act purposefully, with a clear picture of where they are headed.

It is useful for a Leadership Team to periodically review the vision statement and revise it if conditions change.

What is a Vision Statement?

A vision statement gives direction to the project or organization. It describes what people are being asked to commit themselves to, and why this is a
worthwhile endeavor. It provides a sense of purpose that links people together. The vision serves as a high-level guide for decision making and the
actions of everyone in the project or organization.

Vision statements tend to:

  • Provide a positive description, rather than “what we don’t want.”
  • Include elements such as purpose, values, work environment, and results
  • Be succinct, providing an “image” of success
  • Be defined by the leader or Leadership Team, then shared, discussed, and filled out by others working the project or organization
  • Have “staying power.”

Determine major strategies and set broad goals

The next step is to determine strategies and top-level goals. In order for people to know how to implement the vision they need to have more specific  information. Strategies and goals provide some of this information.

A strategy defines your approach to achieve the vision and describes how to implement it.

Strategies are then translated into goals. These goals become the concrete milestones for the team to use in measuring its progress. Often, a goal setting worksheet is useful for teams as they work toward creating and maintaining a shared vision.

Defining Strategies

A Leadership Team should initially define strategies. Then the strategies should be added to or refined with input from sub-team leaders.

Strategies might address such areas as:

  • How the product is designed. (Does it use proven, easily available materials?)
  • How the  customer  will  be  involved. (Will customers test early designs?)
  • How the schedule is managed. (Should you introduce the product in time for a major holiday?)
  • How service will be implemented. (Do you want to bring service to the customer rather than vice versa?)

For example, if the vision for the project is to develop an unbreakable, inexpensive widget for customers, some strategies might include the following:

  • Test an  early  model on your “toughest” customers to get some feedback.
  • Use the fewest number of parts possible in the design.
  • Establish cost targets at the beginning of the project for design, manufacture, and support.

Goal Setting

Goals quantify and define the steps you must take to achieve the vision. Goals set by a Leadership Team are fairly broad; sub-teams will set more specific goals.

Goals should be

  • S Specific
  • M Measurable
  • A Actionable
  • R Results oriented
  • T Time-bound