Thursday, May 31, 2007

Why good leadership teams perform badly

I routinely work with weak CEOs whose firms make decent profits in spite of them and others who seem to work well with their leadership group and are always one paid invoice away from bankruptcy. Clearly, the strong leaders should be doing better - so what stops them?

I asked my friend and colleague Sandy Blaha - a master builder of high performance A/E firm leadership teams - what are the principal barriers to success? How does an otherwise good management team pull it together and start making real money?

Sandy explained to me about the four most common problems encountered by leadership teams:

1. Lack of Facilitation Skills Most A/E professionals lack the active listening skills required to provide an occasional summary of what the group has said or decided so far. A good facilitator mirrors the group and helps it pause to evaluate what it is doing. Mirroring what has been said or decided so far also helps a participant in a group decision “get off” a point that he or she is continually repeating. It also helps relieve escalating intensity within the discussion.
2. Flying Blind Don't meet about something without the information or research needed to come to a conclusion. Make sure someone in the group has the insight to raise a flag and say "let's find out more before we decide."
3. Reinventing the Wheel Don't make a decision then start all over again several months later on the same issue as if no decision had been made. Keep a notebook of your meeting notes handy so you can review and reinforce previous decisions.
4. Leaving Team Members Out of the Loop Convey key decisions to employees and avoid confusion regarding the direction and intent of a decision. And for goodness sake, don't allow each principal to tell a different story!

Listen, keep it focused, document, and communicate and see the improvement!

All the best,

Frank A. Stasiowski

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