Creating a Strong Leadership Team

Define Roles & Responsibilities

Now it is time to turn to the task of clarifying who does what. Not only does each member have an individual role to perform within the team, but the team, itself, has a collective role to perform on the project or organization. Members should understand this so they can avoid unnecessary overlaps in responsibilities, unassigned responsibilities, and misplaced expectations about what another team member is supposed to be doing.

To help determine who does what, be sure to:

  • Define the Leadership Team’s role in promoting the vision

  • Define each team member’s role on the leadership team

Define the leadership team’s role in promoting the vision

A Leadership Team should continually promote and support the project or organization’s vision and goals. Without a steady beacon to follow, other
teams or parts of the organization can quickly lose sight of the overall purpose to which they are contributing. Activities will only be focused around  what seems important to achieving their own lower-level goals. When such soiling happens, goals may begin to veer off in different directions, resulting in outputs that don’t fit together.

Team members should brainstorm a list of actions they can take to promote the vision and goals. The team should also determine how to keep the vision and goals alive and visible to all working the project. Once the list is created, review it and agree upon the actions your Leadership Team will accept.

An Example of How a Leadership Team Might Promote and Support the Vision and Goals – Stating the vision and goals once is not enough to keep them top-of-mind for people.

Be sure to:

  • Develop a phrase or slogan that communicates the vision or purpose. Splash it on banners, coffee cups, and T-shirts, and give them to team members
  • Invite customers in to talk to members of sub-teams, or encourage sub-team members to visit customers
  • Periodically attend sub-team meetings. Pass along insights about the customer and status of the overall project
  • Look for examples of sub-team decisions that have been made that optimize the overall product rather than the team’s own part of the product. Share the story with other Leadership Teams and sub-teams
  • In conversations with sub-team members, talk about what the vision and goals mean to you


Define each team member’s role on the leadership team

Though a Leadership Team collectively makes sure the project gets done, individuals do much of the work. This requires defining roles, responsibilities, and accountability on the Leadership Team.

People working in sub-teams or sub-units of the organization often find it confusing to be led by a Leadership Team rather than by a single leader.  It’s extremely helpful when sub-team members understand more about the responsibilities and accountability of each person on the Leadership Team.

Using a Roles and Responsibility Matrix can help you in this process.

Defining Individual Roles

To define individual roles, list the names of all members of the Leadership Team, then for each person, agree:

  • What is the person’s major role on the Leadership Team? (For example: Project leader for work done at the Midwest facility or Lead Systems Engineer.)
  • What are the person’s major responsibilities? (These are more specific duties performed to fulfill the role.)
  • For what will the person be held accountable and how will performance be assessed?

Responsibility vs. Accountability in Teams

When  talking  about  teams,  it  is  useful  to  make  a  distinction  between accountability and responsibility.

Accountability is an organizational concept of needing to hold one person answerable for the success or failure of an effort. In this case, it is the Leadership Team who is accountable.

Team members can and should feel responsible for the team’s success and failure. It is this collective sense of responsibility that leads team members to work very hard to support their teammates and their team leader.

Maintaining a Shared Vision:

The best way to check yourself on how you are doing to create and maintain a shared vision is:

  • Once a month at a Leadership Team meeting, ask yourself the question, “How are we doing on creating and maintaining a shared vision?” Have a brief discussion on what specific actions team members have taken, and what you plan to do in the coming month.
  • Be alert for symptoms that you no longer have a shared vision. If you see such symptoms, plan time to “realign” your team. Some symptoms might include:
    • A member of the team appears to be working a “hidden agenda.”
    • A Leadership Team member gives direction to a sub-team that does not seem to match your view of the vision.
    • A Leadership Team member makes a decision that seems to be contrary to the stated vision.

Sub-teams receive different directions, depending on which Leadership team member they ask.