Opportunities and Barriers for Executive Management Teams

By Mike Cardus  |  Organizational Development Consultant, Executive Exchange Facilitator

“In most organizations, mistakes tend to be concealed even from those who make them. The likelihood of such concealment increases with rank or status. Therefore, the higher the rank, the greater the claim to omniscience. This implies that learning is least likely to occur the higher one goes in an organization.” – Russell Ackoff

A significant barrier to innovation and change for top management teams derives from being the top management team.

Top management teams suffer from limited to an absent organizational structure or context.

Being the rule makers – the context of work, goals/tasks expected, and the timeframes are long-term. This ambiguous context creates a fuzzy boundary of expectations for the team. With these loose boundaries knowing who is a part of the top management team is often unclear (to team members and employees), meetings wander, and action items tend to be left unchecked.

These team members have the power to develop an organization that can achieve strategic and organizational goals. Collectively they control most of the conditions required for team effectiveness.

What causes a management team not to achieve potential?

The central area of accountability and authority of each team member is their functional area, making membership in the top management team an extra task. When seen as one of many competing demands in a busy executive’s life, nobody feels responsible for creating and sustaining the team.

Even though management team members give great care and attention to teams they develop within their business units individually. They neglect the most crucial team – the Senior Management Team.

How can the management team potential be focused?

  1. The CEO is accountable for the top management team.
  2. Develop 2 to 5 clear and known integration goals that require the management team to work together to achieve. Integration goals require successfully integrating the different departments to achieve organizational goals.
  3. Make time and priority for the team to develop their Goals, Roles, Procedures and align them, horizontally plus vertically, within the organization.
  4. Meet at least 2 hours monthly to evaluate strategic plus integration goals and progress.
  5. Identify cross-functional barriers that need to be improved.
  6. The team gives updates and shares stories and examples of customers’ and employees’ experiences of the company’s mission and values.
  7. Top managers mentor and meet with the people who report to their direct reports. For exampleMentor – Chief Financial Officer meets to discuss work, career planning, how to navigate the company politics with Mentee – Billing Clerk, who is managed directly by the Director of Finance whom Chief Financial Officer manages.

When an executive management team has a structure for working together, the team members can focus their energy on enhancing the organization and employee experience. Take time and improve your management team’s opportunities, and you will see a positive difference.


Mike Cardus: BNP Executive Exchange Facilitator:
Mike has focused expertise in team building, managerial-leadership, and organization development. Frequently asked to create solutions to address the development of high-performance teams, retention of talent, the innovation of product and profit streams, group conflict, coaching of leaders, developing systems to drive positive behaviors, and development of skilled knowledge to increase organizational and personal effectiveness. Working primarily with teams and management within these organizations, his role has been honed to coach, counsel, facilitate and conduct focused group work. Learn more about Mike.


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