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Les McKeown's Predictable Success Blog

First published July 7, 2016

The Two Most Common Imbalances in Executive Teams 

By Dave McKeown, President of Predictable Success Imbalances in Executive TeamsPreviously, we saw that the precise formula for building a leadership team that scales requires a perfect balance of the Visionary, Operator, Processor and Synergist mindset in your decision-making process. In over 20 years of helping executive teams get to scalability, we’ve yet to see a single team start with that balance. Not one! They usually start from one of two positions: 1. Strong Visionary and Operator, weak Processor and Synergist Where it usually arises – The V/O team is built through Fun, the fast-paced stage of growth where the customer is king, your favorite word is “yes” and you’re providing consistent quality in the face of relative simplicity. When it’s useful – You need the V/O combo to grow through Fun. It gives you the flexibility to turn on a dime. You have no need for the Synergist role as there’s nothing to ‘synergize’ and too much process will hamper your growth. When it is problematic – As your growth takes you to late Fun/Early Whitewater, the V/O mindset hampers your ability to grow further. You don’t have the capability as a team to overcome the creeping complexity in your business and the synapses of how you used to do things begin to cause you to drop the ball. What to do next – Make the decision to return to Fun where you can grow but never scale and maintain the V/O combo; or push through Whitewater by adding a heavy P followed quickly by an S. 2. Strong Visionary and Synergist, weak Operator and Processor Where it usually arises – V/S teams develop within organizations naturally (unlike balanced VOPS teams, which are usually only brought about by an unnatural but ultimately correct strategic move). The reason is simple: in the absence of a better model, most senior leaders assume their role as a team is to set the long-term vision of the business and make sure their team is aligned around that goal. They assume that the implementation (O and P) should be left to their direct reports and so culturally they squeeze out any residual O and P from the senior team. When it’s useful – a strong V/S team is really only useful for one thing: Brainstorming. When you have a problem to solve and you want some good ideas, get a V/S team together. Unfortunately, that’s it. In the long run, it’s not great for managing a business. When it is problematic – V/S-heavy teams will often circle the drains, unpick and rethink decisions, leave decisions un-implemented, frustrate their direct reports by lobbing decisions over the transom and leave meetings feeling positive but with a lack of clarity on what was agreed. Working in a V/S team feels like you’re spinning your wheels. What to do next – Two things: First look for team members with hidden O and P styles. They’ll be in your group, but their O and P will have been sucked out as it’s ‘not the way we do things’. Encourage them to embrace their inner Operator or Processor. If that doesn’t bring about balance, recruit an Operator or Processor to the team. Fast. Check your team’s balance today: Once everyone has completed the quiz, then analyze your team’s results.  

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