Situation: Top managers of a company are all very experienced. All want to drive the company – but each in their own way. Overall objectives are not significantly different but the path forward varies considerably among the managers. Is this situation common? Should the CEO be doing things differently? How do you create management alignment?
Advice from the CEOs:
- Strong differences among strong leaders are common. This is not necessarily a cause for concern or a problem. Rather, it means that you have a lot of options to help address opportunities or solve issues.
- When you hire bright, talented people with good ideas, there will always be differences of opinion. This is healthy. You need this, particularly when sailing uncharted waters.
- As CEO, sometimes you need a strong critic on your team to moderate your inclinations. Just because you are CEO doesn’t mean that you always have the answer. Rather, allowing the answer to come from the team strengthens the team as well as commitment to execution.
- How do you leverage the strengths of this team to create the best future for your company?
- First, assure that the broad roadmap is clear and that everyone agrees on this.
- When addressing a choice, opportunity or challenge lay out the situation in broad terms. Allow all of the managers their say, and facilitate the discussion to identify commonalities and differences. Confirm the commonalities, and dig into the differences to understand the perspectives of each. Digging into differences can identify roadblocks as well as alternative options. Keep the discussion open instead of trying to drive toward a single, quick solution.
- Summarize the options presented. If there are multiple alternatives, do a ranking exercise to see if one rises to the top. Be sure to credit the managers for their ideas and creative input.
- In each situation there is a final decision maker. All must respect that after you’ve listened there will be a decision and that decision will be executed. Allow them to execute and focus on results.
- Be consistent and always be who you are.