Three weeks ago, I had the pleasure of working with two executive teams. Their businesses are very different. One is over 20 years old with almost 4000 employees. The second is a start-up driving towards commercializing its first product. While different, both of them were exploring a common question. Who are we today and who do we want to be?
In both cases we started with who the team wanted to be so we could frame that sometimes more difficult conversation – who are we now?
Answering this question requires that these executives become aware of and more comfortable with the answers to several other, deeper questions about themselves and the team:
- Do we fully understand who each of us is? Do we understand how each of us filters information, makes decisions and communicates?
- Are we aligned around a common vision of where this company or department is going? And how are we, as a team, are leading it? This may seem obvious, but misalignment amongst leadership is a common cause of organizational dysfunction and average performance.
- Are we role-modeling the characteristics we want this organization to exhibit?
- How are we pushing each other to step out of our comfort zonesin a productive and effective way? Innovation doesn’t happen when everyone is comfortable.
- How do we provide impactful feedbackto each other so that we increase the team’s effectiveness rather than diminishing it?
- What about when the inevitable happens – when we’re sometimes annoying each other? Are we avoiding certain people? Aggressively confronting them? How well is it working? There’s a third option that gets better results.
Why so many questions? Because good answers require good questions. In today’s environment, personal and organizational curiosity is a prerequisite for leadership and business growth. And if you’re not digging deeply…, you’re limiting the depth and speed of your growth.