Creating a Strong Leadership Team

Agree on the work environment

A Leadership Team sets the tone for the work environment of an organization or project. It does this through its policies, procedures, and behaviors. By explicitly discussing and shaping these areas, a Leadership Team can help ensure that the work environment that develops is one that supports the vision.

To help set the tone, a leadership team should:

  • Identify important characteristics

  • Identify critical behaviors that support the characteristics

Identify important characteristics

Think about the kind of work environment you want to create on the project or within the organization. Brainstorm a list of characteristics, based
on work environments you have experienced and found beneficial. It can help to think about what you would like to overhear members of your organization saying to other people. Imagine people describing to others what it’s like to work on this program or within this organization.

For example:

  • Are people frazzled and overworked?
  • Are tasks clearly defined?
  • Do people feel valued and appreciated for their contributions?
  • Is it a fun place to work? If so, why?

The work environment you create should support teamwork. As you identify important characteristics of your work environment think about those that foster a team environment.

Characteristics of a team environment

A team environment is one that is characterized by:

  • Collaboration and cooperation
  • A feeling of “ownership” of the team’s results that is shared by all members
  • Mutual support for each other to achieve a commonly held goal
  • Pride in being part of the team
  • The time taken to have fun and to celebrate
  • Open and honest communication
  • Members who hold each other responsible for doing their defined part

Identify critical behaviors that support the characteristics

Now that you have an idea of the kind of work environment you want to create, identify how team members would behave in this environment.
These critical behaviors are those a leadership team must model for others on the project or within the organization. This will help others to know what is expected.

To identify behaviors, brainstorm a list of what people would say or do in the work environment you want to create. For example, if one characteristic of your work environment is that people raise problems or issues early, some specific behaviors you might model could include the following:

  1. Listening carefully when issues are raised
  2. Praising people for raising issues early, rather than criticizing them
  3. Asking all teams to develop a top five issues list every week

Teamwork Behaviors

Examples of behaviors that support teamwork include:

  • Active listening
  • Offering information rather than waiting to be asked for information
  • Supporting and encouraging team members
  • Providing constructive feedback to team members
  • Offering and accepting help
  • Accepting responsibility for team successes and failures
  • Identifying, discussing, and mitigating risks
  • Solving problems instead of finding blame
  • Real time integration of ideas and solutions