5 Questions Leaders Should Ask About Their Teams

'The team' is a basic and fundamental blueprint for organisational and personal success. As a leader, ask yourself the following 5 questions about your teams:

  1. Do you regularly measure team performance and, as a result, address where and how to take the team to the next level?

    What you don't measure, you can't manage. 'Team performance' means not just 'results', but how team members work with, support, collaborate and coach each other?
  1. Is 'team fit' a critical dimension of the hiring process?

    All (as in all) talent acquisition is strategic. This implies: 1) measuring both the culture you have and the culture you need in the future; and 2) access to the tools/capability needed to assess team fit. The major reason a newly hired leader fails is either: 1) they cannot adapt to the emerging culture; and/or 2) they aren't fully integrated into the team.
  1. Does the team truly reflect diversity?

    Diversity supports innovation. And not just racial, gender and/or socioeconomic differences but representing a blend of cognitive diversity. If the majority of those on the team 'think' and approach problems in the same way, you have stripped the team of a key competitive advantage.
  1. When someone new joins the team is a mentor appointed from within the team?

    If they don't land, they won't stay! Is it recognised that whenever a new team member is added, in many senses, a 'new' team is formed? The implications for remote working and the need, as a result, to revisit 'what is a team?' are no less profound.
  1. Have team members been fully trained to coach each other? Do they?

    How people learn is invariably more important than what they learn. Recognising that as the team leader you work for the team, is 'coaching mastery' how team members describe your commitment to their success?

Insights from (PDF) "Great Organisations Are Built Around Great Teams", Orxestra Inc., © 2021.

As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Great Organisations Are Built Around Great Teams
transearch.com (PDF)

Leadership, as it must be, is strategic. It's to step back, see the big picture and, to the extent possible, create tomorrow in the room, today. Covid is but one piece of a chaotic and ever changing political, economic, societal, business and interconnected leadership puzzle. At the centre of all of this is 'the team' … a basic and fundamental blueprint for organisational and personal success.

What follows is intended as a practical guide for:

  1. Setting the scene for a virtual team.
  2. A new or established leader who needs to take the team to the next level.
  3. The executive who feels that, as the organisation navigates the turbulent waters of change, the team is losing its impact.
  4. The HR executive, division head or external recruitment specialist (e.g., the executive search consultant) who, in orchestrating team fit, needs to understand the team they are hiring into.
  5. A manager or external resource faced with the challenge of coaching the team.

Read "Great Organisations Are Built Around Great Teams" leadership insights

Employ the Head, Empower the Hand, Engage the Heart, and Enrich the Spirit (Part 2)

Why leadership balance is a business imperative

We have asked 10,000+ leaders, in over twenty-five countries, a simple question:

"What are the qualities of the best leader you have ever worked for?"

Two key results emerge.

First, successful leaders empower the head; enable the hand; engage the heart; and enrich the spirit. Lack of attention (or capability) in any one domain and team members/subordinates are short-changed on all four. It matters not, for example, that you have a great strategy (head) if execution (hand) is found wanting.

The second insight speaks to leadership balance (coherence). Balance describes performance excellence in each of the four domains. It is also about how those domains combine. Specifically, how the head and hand; the hand and heart; the heart and spirit; and the spirit and head come together.

HEAD & HAND - The Hunting Ground:

  • Theme: if you don't win today there will be no tomorrow.
  • Actions: clear direction, the drive to win, customer focus, a differentiated value proposition, the discipline of delivery.
  • Mindset: it's fun to win.
  • Greatest potential disruption: lack of focus.
  • Balance: without the head and hand, know that your future will be shaped by missed targets.

HAND & HEART - Breaking New Ground:

  • Theme: doing what you have always done is a mandate for mediocrity.
  • Actions: growth, stretch, business development, cost savings, continuous improvement, technology, redefining process, putting new learning into practice.
  • Mindset: getting better every day, in every way.
  • Greatest potential disruption: assumptions that competitive advantage has an extended shelf-life.
  • Balance: without the hand and heart the status quo will inevitably rule.

HEART & SPIRIT - The Playground:

  • Theme: if you don't grow the talent base you can't grow the business.
  • Actions: pushing the boundaries, learning at the edge, teamwork, coaching, mentoring, collaboration, leadership of self, authenticity, caring.
  • Mindset: how you learn is at least as important as what you learn.
  • Greatest potential disruption: a bully in the playground.
  • Balance: without the heart and spirit expect to always be short of top talent.

SPIRIT & HEAD - Moving To Higher Ground:

  • Theme: tomorrow's marketplace will be different. Count on it!
  • Actions: rethinking possibility, forging a new direction, succession, innovation, risk, emotional buy-in, commitment, letting go.
  • Mindset: entrepreneurial.
  • Greatest potential disruption: lack of succession.
  • Balance: without the spirit and the head, know that you are passing the baton of opportunity to the competition.

Inspirational leadership

It's not enough for the leader to communicate where we are heading. Gaining buy-in has to draw on language, imagery and story. To inspire is to make tomorrow's success come alive in the room today. If you can imagine it, you can implement it. If you can see it, you can be it. To inspire, the leader has to believe and convey with every strand of their DNA, not that this needs to happen – but that it will happen.

It's not enough to push for development and growth. To inspire, the leader has to display a personal passion for learning. Leaders are readers. They give full reign to their own sense of curiosity and draw it out in others. They see resilience not as bouncing back after a setback but learning from the experience and, as a result, being better equipped than ever. They build great teams. They ask great questions and, in doing so, transform what is into what can be.

It's not enough that the leader be respected. To inspire, they have to step down from the pedestal, look people in the eye and act in such a way that those they lead know, really know, that they care more about their success than their own. To lead is to care. Caring is step one in engendering trust.

Good leaders will engage some of the team, some of the time. Conversely, it takes a leader who brings leadership balance to the role, who knows how to inspire, who does inspire – to instil a sense of lasting commitment from all of the team. Leaders must lead! Leaders do lead. Are you the leader they need?

As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Employ the Head, Empower the Hand, Engage the Heart, and Enrich the Spirit (Part 1)

Four leadership domains

There are four things an employee (regardless of level) needs – not wants, needs – from their immediate team leader.

  1. A clear sense of direction – where are we heading? How will the business environment evolve? Where and how is technology going to change the business? What will tomorrow look, sound and feel like? What is our unique point of differentiation? Who is tomorrow's customer? The head.
  2. The discipline of delivery – a cadence, a rhythm, a regular and continuing pattern of behaviour where the agreed outcomes and feedback regarding those outcomes are always in sharp focus. It's about an organisation that, by way of design, is agile enough to support tomorrow's needed speed of delivery. In performance terms, it's the need for everyone on the team to know where they stand. The hand.
  3. To provide a learning environment – mentoring, coaching, stretch, building the team, a focus on learning how to learn. Currency in the job market. The heart.
  4. That the leader in question is someone who everyone on the team respects and trusts – consistent, authentic, affirming, displays humility, keeps people informed, is tough-minded when they need to be and, regardless of the circumstances, they listen, really listen. The spirit.

A consistent and compelling performance ethos, day-to-day focus, an engaged workforce, and a sense of belonging – all draw heavily on the four leadership domains outlined above.

Leadership balance

Lack of leadership balance – behaviour skewed towards one of the above to the detriment of the others – and innovation and responsiveness become a lost cause. Meanwhile, failure to fully deliver against any one of these (four) leadership imperatives and for those you count on most, the grass will inevitably look greener elsewhere. Guaranteed!

To lead is to hire, promote and build for succession – at a level of excellence. Anything less is unacceptable. Nothing is more important. To be in a position of responsibility and lack mastery in hiring is to actively mismanage a critical business asset.

The head describes success in strategic terms.

The hand outlines what, specifically, needs to be achieved.

The heart captures the people management capability demanded.

The spirit is all about character. Character matters.

Talent acquisition, specifically, and talent management, generally, that fails to embrace all four leadership characteristics is a gateway to yet more recruitment.

It is obviously essential to be "customer-centric". But, what does that really mean?

The head implies being fully informed as to where the customer's business is heading. It's to understand the customer's emerging value proposition. It's to see opportunity through the customer's customer.

The hand means getting inside the customer's business processes, delivering on time and maintaining the highest level of quality.

The heart recognises that the buy-decision is based on emotion. Selling is not simply how well you get across what you do or even how well you do it – it's, ultimately, how you make the customer feel.

The spirit is found in truth, authenticity and living the organisation's values. Spirit comes to the fore in passion, perseverance and, when needed, patience. It is also about challenging those on the front-line to improve the processes that dictate how the work gets done – and do so every day, in every way.

The emerging culture

In shaping the emerging culture, leadership that draws on the head and the hand can be termed as "cultural drivers". Meanwhile, the heart and the spirit act like cultural anchors. If they are not present, in full measure, being who you have always been is the best that can be hoped for. Don't even think about implementing sweeping change (e.g., breakthrough technology) if the heart and the spirit are found wanting.

From our own research and the work of others, only one company in five "manage" their culture. Then again, the organisation's culture will change whether you want it to or not … if you are not attentive, in ways that are less than helpful.

So far so good, but even the leadership qualities outlined will likely not keep your high contributors on board should the right opportunity beckon. They need more … they need to be inspired. They need to believe that what we choose to call "work" is making the very best use of their time and ability. They need to be able to bridge the challenge they face today with what tomorrow's success will look and feel like.

This equates to leadership of an altogether higher order... Read Part 2 for more.

Insights from "Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis".

As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Direction - The DNA Of A Great Team

Striving to create a great team isn't simply to end up with a nice, bright, shiny and highly admired group of people. The only reason for building a great team - the utility implied - is to better facilitate tomorrow's winning value proposition, create value, bring about change and retain talent. Anything less is to shortchange everyone involved. Results and relationships are the central tenets in a series of synergistic sub-processes that move from Direction, to Development, to Delivery and, eventually, to Decline. As it moves through each of the building blocks, a great team leans heavily on these DNA markers.

In this article we explore "Direction".

A compelling purpose

The team's purpose is obviously drawn out of the organisation's purpose. Purpose should answer two questions - one, essentially, a subtext of the other:

1) Why do we do what we do?
2) How does what we do make a difference in the world?

With a big enough "why" ordinary people can, and do, achieve the extraordinary. Ask yourself:

  • Does the "why" have real emotional impact … both within the business and with customers? Does it inspire people?
  • In what ways does the purpose give team members a deeper sense of meaning?
  • What unanswered questions does the purpose raise?

The right leader

To lead is to be the first one to smile and the last one to speak. Those who excel as leaders blend courtesy, compassion and comfort with ambiguity into an in-the-moment presence. Peter Drucker referred to courtesy as "the lubricant of leadership". There is no such thing as a leaderless team. Lack of a leader runs the risk of introducing the wrong leadership. That said, as the team matures, there are times when the leader has to follow and members of the team are asked to lead. Ask yourself:

  • Is there a clear leader? Are they the right leader? Who should the leader be? In the case of an outgoing leader, what was their most significant contribution?
  • Does the team leader live the organisation's values every day in every way? How do they deal with those who don't always live the values?
  • What is the team leader's leadership point of view?
  • In the way they lead, do they deliver leadership "balance"?
  • In the absence of an appointed leader, who takes the lead?
  • How does the team leader deal with conflict? What conflict will a future leader need to deal with?
  • How are rivalries dealt with?
  • How much freedom to act do team members have? How much freedom to act should they have?
  • How does the team leader delegate?

The right strategy

The strategy describes "what" needs to be achieved. The organisation's values outline "how". Ask yourself:

  • Is the long-term direction for the team clear? Is it congruent with the strategy of key teams one level up?
  • Are the delivery assumptions built into the strategy consistent with the organisation's values?
  • Does the strategy contain within it messaging that reinforces the culture the organisation needs to create?
  • In what ways does the strategy balance the short and the long term?
  • Who, if anybody, on the team disagrees with the agreed strategy? How have they been given a voice?

The right people

Whom you hire and/or promote dictates what's possible. The default selection process in most organisations is skewed towards hiring the "best" person. Great teams are built on finding the "right" person. Based on the situation, the right candidate will be someone who can grow and continue to grow in the role, who adds to the team beyond the horizons of the functional role and who is a natural fit with the leadership development agenda offered within the organisation. If you can't attract top talent, you can't hire top talent. Top performers are drawn to an organisation with a great story. Ask yourself:

  • With the agreed strategy in mind, do those on the team have the basic talent needed to thrive? What's missing … as a team … and/or on an individual basis?
  • Is the behaviour of those on the team aligned with the culture the organisation - and by implication - the team need to create?
  • Is there an obvious successor to the leader? How has the potential success of that individual been validated? What development steps are under way?
  • How does the team add someone new? Is that approach effective?
  • Are those who make recruitment decisions fully trained in interviewing?

Insights from "Great Organisations Are Built Around Great Teams".

As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Context - The DNA Of A Great Team

The influence of the team on individual behaviour is often (invariably) underestimated … as is the impact of the wider organisation culture on the team. Attempts to transform the organisation (or team) one person at a time are destined to be both time-consuming and, ultimately, frustrating.

The most powerful "change tool" in the leader's arsenal is to reframe the context. "Context" is found in - although not limited to - the emerging customer's needs, how the space is organised, the team leader's behaviour, who is brought onto the team and/or who is asked to leave, imagery, the organisation's values, group norms, the degree of transparency, access to best practice, storytelling, the metaphors introduced, work that has meaning, the spirit of affirmation and giving back. For millennials, giving back includes a high priority to the environment.

Keep the following questions in mind when framing the context:

  • Do team members have a full and unambiguous understanding of the organisation's values? Values aren't rules; they give people permission to act.
  • Does everyone on the team fully understand the culture the wider organisation is seeking to create?
  • If the team is dispersed, how are team members who don't have day-to-day contact made to feel part of a team?
  • Is it understood why today's customer buys and how and why that will change in the future?
  • Is the promise implicit in the brand integral to how the team faces new challenges and/or makes decisions?
  • Is the team imbued with a sense of urgency?
  • Is simplicity the watchword in everything the team seeks to do?
  • What extra care is taken to explain the meaning (concisely) of those words that must have a shared understanding? The organisation's values being a case in point.
  • Is the organisation's story clear?

Insights from "Great Organisations Are Built Around Great Teams". Download your copy today https://www.transearch.com/orxestra/downloads

As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

It's All About Culture

Culture is only real for as long as those involved believe that it's real. And it's meaningful and sustainable only for as long as those in key leadership roles reinforce that reality through their day-to-day behaviour. What a leader does is far more important than anything they might say!

Without effective processes that support a customer-centric, quality-driven, end-to-end value chain, confusion, conflict and lost capacity are inevitable. Without measurement, organisation culture is destined to remain of secondary importance; overwhelmed by the operational emergencies that all too often dominate decision-making. To lead, to inspire, to take people where they otherwise would not go is to be both artisan and artist. Think of these capabilities as the bricks and mortar (glue) of culture. To instill something that goes deep, to build something that lasts … both are essential.

Culture isn't "out there". It's not of secondary importance. And it's not a project, a by-product of the engagement survey, the exclusive domain of the HR department, a silent drumbeat that echoes from the past, a change management program, and/or "something we need to get to".

Culture is the here and now, it's practical and it's the very essence - one might call it "the soul" – of the organisation.

The organisation's strategy, be it one page or an overly complex plan, contains within it deep-rooted cultural assumptions. All projects and/or strategic initiatives are imprinted by, intended or, more often than not, unintentional "messaging" that shape how those charged with delivering the strategy define success.

In an organisation with a strong and agile culture (StrAgility), the signals that shape culture are deliberate, overt and consistent - that is, aligned with the culture the organisation needs to create. In organisations that have fallen into "culture drift" - we might not invest much time on culture but there is an overall feeling that we are on the right track - the absence of the deliberate cultural intent carries its own message - "the status quo rules."

The dilemma with a philosophy of "more of the same" is that culture changes whether you want it to or not. In an organisation that "manages culture", the signals that emphasise "team" are integral to the organisation's very DNA. To that end, consider the questions below:

  • Is the strategic direction being driven into the organisation a single, linear, unidimensional plan … or is "managing uncertainty" supported by a series of well thought through strategic scenarios?
  • In team review meetings, coaching sessions, business development approaches and all things to do with performance management, is the culture the organisation needs to create: (1) aligned with what tomorrow's customers want to buy; (2) drawn out of sound measurement; and (3) fully supported by middle managers?
  • Are the organisation's values clear? Do those values reinforce the importance of teamwork?
  • The real challenge with strategy is implementation. Meanwhile, turning direction into delivery rests, in no small measure, on buy-in from the middle kingdom. Is the strategy presented as a series of numbers and charts or has it been translated into a compelling story? Information, as the term implies, "informs." The right story inspires.
  • Do the stories that dominate celebrate the lone hero/heroine … or do they recognise that no one makes it on their own?
  • Do the hiring, promotion, high potential and success processes emphasise team fit? As we move to more flexible organisation forms - as the team becomes the basic building block of organisation performance - success as both a team leader and a team player becomes the difference that makes a difference.
  • Does the definition of "diversity" include not just gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and the like but cognitive diversity? The latter recognising the need for teams to be made up of members who not only come from different backgrounds but who "think differently".
  • Is it recognised that, without support and exemplary teamwork from those in the middle of the organisation, the direction the organisation needs to take is likely to remain little more than "what might have been?"
  • Does the organisation's design support or work against a strong team culture? Even a simple carpenter recognises how problematic it is to work against the grain.

"The way I think about culture is that modern humans have radically changed the way that they work and the way that they live. Companies need to change the way they manage and lead to match the way that modern humans actually work and live."

Brian Halligan, CEO, HubSpot

If the competition is managing its culture and you are trapped by culture drift, no matter how good your product, you don't have a future … you have a problem.

As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Why Culture Matters

Measuring culture, using business terms aligned with the emerging context and pragmatic enough for middle management to fully contribute, is essential but, like a well worn sock, you need to pull the organisation's culture on to truly know the way things really happen, where the holes are, and what it is that makes your business strong.

As you walk through an organisation, you have to "feel" the culture, work your observation gene, interpret not only what you see but what you don't and become the alter ego of the middle manager as the needed culture can only come to life with their full support.

There are two cultures; formal and informal. The latter is, ultimately, the more important. In moving forward, it's not enough to connect with those who shape the strategy. You have to inspire the organisation's informal leaders, a new generation who now make up the majority of the workforce and, no less important, those who do work for you but choose to do so remotely.

How decisions are made often happens outside of the discipline and rigour suggested by the organisation structure. This is especially true if the team works remotely or in different locations. This merely goes to endorse that the ideal organisation, by way of design, would:

  1. Reflect how, given the opportunity, people would choose to work together.
  2. Assume that the team leader works for the team and not the other way around.

In charting a course for a different future it's essential to:

  1. Be informed by the emerging social, political, economic and competitive environment; as both what's demanded and what's possible lies within.
  2. Recognise that developing strategic scenarios are essential.
  3. Understand that you can't sprinkle agility onto the organisation; it has to be fully embedded in the culture.

As we seek to "reinvent possibility", technology clearly makes an enduring contribution. Here we need to recognise that, although not an end in and of itself (as many suggest), if it can be digitalised, it will be digitalised.

Why the compelling need for digitalisation? Speed, simplicity and service are characteristics of competitive success that, more often than not, determines who wins and who goes home. If dissatisfied, customers are rarely without easy-to-access other options.

Insights from "Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis".

As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Coming Down the Mountain: Coming Out Of This Crisis Stronger

Breakthrough technology, uncertainty and the unprecedented and ever-increasing speed of change demand an organisation that is a fit for the challenges of the 21st century. We are describing not just a better, but a very different kind of way to operate. An organisation built to change; one where disruption, agility and speed of learning dominate the leadership conversation.

Which brings us to the COVID-19 crisis. A crisis has three stages. Stage one: acceptance. Stage two: survival. Stage three: growth. And the winners will be? Those who come out of this crisis stronger.

Amid the veritable avalanche of "me too" advice on how to get through this crisis it is easy to overlook two central questions:

  1. "How will your business come out of this stronger?"
  2. "As a leader, how will you personally come out of this stronger?"

"Part One: Coming Down the Mountain" looks at how to come out of this crisis stronger:

  • The Three Stages of Crisis
  • Letting Go of Our Past
  • Following a Script From a Different Century
  • The New Normal
  • Coming Down the Mountain
  • Why Culture Matters
  • Next Steps
  • Appendix one: 3 X 3: Crisis, Culture and Change
  • Mindset Assessment: Will You come Out of This Crisis Stronger?

Download your complementary copy today »

As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Tomorrow's Leaders Are Comfortable With Ambiguity

Being comfortable with being uncomfortable

There are points in time when the more we know, the more we realise how little we know. We are in such a time. The future role of robotics/cobotics, the nature and design of tomorrow's corporation, the potential impact of medical breakthroughs and how tomorrow's technology, generally, is going to shape the endeavour – arguably, the most innovative creation our species has ever achieved – that we call "the organisation" remain, at best, "uncertain". If you think you "know", take an aspirin, lie down and hopefully the feeling will pass.

"Anticipation" is to identify that which can be expected. We don't really know what tomorrow holds other than … to expect the unexpected. Furthermore, the scope and nature of change that lies ahead isn't like passing through bad weather. It's akin to being engulfed by a hurricane that is merely a harbinger of the even bigger storm front that lies ahead.

"Comfort with ambiguity" is being comfortable with being uncomfortable. It's the art of not knowing but, when necessary, making the right decision anyway. It's far less about being right than it is doing the right things. It's about interpreting the organisation's values as a springboard for action and providing the freedom to move beyond what has been – not as a restrictive set of rules.

The leader works for the team

There is a well-established relationship between entrepreneurship and comfort with ambiguity. It's called risk. Recognising a great idea, relentless focus, a results-driven mentality and real-time awareness are the mark of the entrepreneur. As is avoiding, what Jeff Bezos calls, "day 2 stasis." Day 1 leaders keep the customer at the centre of everything they do, are quick to embrace meaningful trends, are paranoid about the bottom line and fail fast and move on. Most leaders see rejection as a setback. Entrepreneurs view it as just one more step on the road to success. Above all, successful entrepreneurs know how and when to say no. Corporate executives manage risk … entrepreneurs live it every day.

There is also an important team dimension to comfort with ambiguity. As a long-suffering child of the perceived need for rigid hierarchy, it has long been assumed that the team worked for the team leader. "Fast", "flat", "flexible", "focused" and "fertile" changes all that. Moving forward, the leader will work for the team. This implies a far subtler relationship; a bond where formal authority gives way to trust, mutual respect and the quest for authenticity. Instruction and "telling" were relatively straightforward. Followership rooted in influence moves the leader into far murkier waters. Not that there is much of a choice when technical know-how and customer insight are shared across the team. If you can't coach, you can't lead!

And the difference that makes a difference: Recognise that only those who can see what others cannot see … can do what others say cannot be done. Differentiate between those who deliver based on what is asked of them and those who show true initiative. Support the former … invest in the latter.

Insights from "Tomorrow's Leadership Will Be Different".

As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Know What You Are Looking For - Making Talent Acquisition a Competitive Advantage

The critical dimensions of fit

Talent acquisition is ultimately about managing risk. Risk, in turn, is about fit. There are five critical dimensions of fit:

  1. Fit with the organisation's values.
  2. Culture fit - this implies measurement of today's culture and the culture the organisation needs to be successful in the future.
  3. Performance fit - building a scorecard for the role.
  4. Leadership fit - role-specific competencies.
  5. Team fit - this demands a meaningful assessment of the team.

All dimensions are essential. Even if you are driving a Ferrari; if one of the four wheels and/or the steering wheel is missing … you are not going to go very far.

Organisation values

The organisation's values represent the CEO's and, by implication, the leadership point of view of the top team. The challenge being that although many organisations proport to have robust organisation values for perhaps the majority they amount to little more than window dressing.

Where the organisation's values are either absent or only of secondary importance the default action is to shape behaviour by introducing "rules." Rules not only ensure that even simple decisions take longer to make but they quickly become enforceable boundaries that those who are interested in protecting "turf" are quick to erect.

For a measure of the team, see John O. Burdett, TEAM: Align, Build, Connect & Develop (2015). The "Taking Your Team to the Next Level" Assessment looks at the team through four distinct lenses:

  1. What does the team need to know?
  2. How effective is the team leader?
  3. Where and how can those on the team become better team players?
  4. What does the team need to do to accelerate through the performance/learning curve?

Leadership competencies

Generic leadership competencies answer the question, "What does it mean to be a successful leader in this organisation?" Role-specific leadership competencies answer the question, "What does it mean to be a successful leader in this role?" There is a time and place for improvisation and informed guesswork. That said, an apt definition might describe such a behaviour as "gambling".

Defining success in a key role that has just become open isn't the time to wager a bet. A miss-hire can easily end up costing 15 times or even 20 times the annual salary. This is to say nothing of the opportunity cost, the disruption to the team and/or those times when hiring a key executive amounts to betting the business.

Orchestrating fit

Somewhere in orchestrating fit a new reality emerges. For the first time since the birth of the Industrial Revolution, the team has truly become the building block of organisational success. The network organisation, the power of expertise, the speed of change, the need to release the creativity and talent of employees at every level, the portability of talent, and that innovation is indelibly linked to diversity and the freedom to act, all mean that we need super teams far more than superstars.

President Teddy Roosevelt suggested that leadership meant, "Talking softly and carrying a big stick." The only reason a team leader should carry a big stick today is to strike themselves sharply around the head if, for a moment, they forget that they work for the team … not that the team works for them.

Insights by John Burdett. Orxestra Inc., © 2019.

Insights from "Talent Acquisition - The Battle For Tomorrow".

As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.