Have you ever been part of a leadership team so aligned that they were able to maintain a unified front even in the face of complex challenges? Lucky you!
What a beautiful thing to behold. Sadly, it’s so rare that most of us have never experienced it.
It doesn’t have to be. The world of systems coaching gives us skills to build a unified front¹.
The most unified senior teams bring a collective weather.
While leaders have no control over Mother Nature, they can be intentional about the weather they bring to the overall culture, and from moment to moment. Moods are contagious, after all.
To achieve business results:
- Does the culture need courage + safety or challenge + experimentation?
- Does a team offsite need truth-telling or play to break through an impasse? Both?
The right cultural weather does not happen magically, but intentional weather can feel magical.
The most unified senior teams have each other’s back².
The primary skill to cultivate here is ‘finding each other right’. This looks like genuinely pointing out something that is right, even if it’s just a colleague’s intention versus competing or proving wrong.
The most effective teams will also rescue each other. Leaders are human and get triggered. When a senior colleague is distracted, goes too far, or gets hooked, it’s up to their leader colleagues to help them recover. This could look like pausing for a break, suggesting the topic be shelved for a bit, or stepping in to redirect.
The most unified teams go down gracefully, together, to ride out the storm.
Even the most forward-looking teams encounter circumstances (e.g., market conditions) or people that derail plans. Keeping a unified front might mean apologizing for something another senior leader did to stay united as a senior team. When things go wrong is not a time for finger pointing, taking sides or playing the victim despite that it can be so enticing to do just that.
The most unified teams stand on a foundation of trust.
A unified leadership front assumes strong ethical and moral behaviour in the team and lives on a foundation of trust. When individual behaviours trample on other leaders’ values, courageous and timely conversations are essential. Leaders who avoid dealing head on with the conflict that inevitably arises, will feel unsafe, drained and resentful. In other words, they will suffer. Their people and company results will suffer too.
“All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.”
~ Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers
What will you do to unify your team? There is a lot at stake after all.
P.S. Here’s a fun take on creating a unified front: