By Anthony Emmett
Understanding what isn’t working in a business is arguably as important as what is! Earlier this year I joined the operating board of the non-American division of a large international company, with a view to understanding and helping the newish CEO mould his team into an effective working unit.
Having spent the morning listening to the reporting of all present, the problem became apparent, each person present was doing a great job in fulling their operational obligations but wasn’t necessarily working for the team.
Just before lunch the CEO turned to me and asked me for my observations of the morning. Rather than answer him directly I asked if I could undertake a simple exercise to demonstrate what I believed was happening. I then asked everyone to write down what the CEO (including him) was trying to achieve and would be judged on this year. I explained that I was not trying to embarrass anyone but this would clearly demonstrate what was happening in the Executive team.
Three minutes later I asked the CEO to read what he had written. His vision for the year was met with silence. After what seemed like an age, (was in fact was 15 seconds) one direct report suggested “I think what I’ve written is pretty close to that”. The point was made and understood. Everyone acknowledged that although they were working hard and getting results in their own area of responsibility, this was sometimes at the expense of others in the room.
Solving these sorts of problems are hard to see from within, being clear as to what you are trying to achieve and being able to create a compelling rationale for everyone concerned is a business critical skill. The foundation of inspirational leadership.