We often forget about the role of leadership teams in building culture.

Organizations, even small ones, rarely have only one leader. The CEO, president, chancellor, superintendent depend on a team of leaders to facilitate and guide people in the organization. 

The Role of Leadership Teams

Leadership teams have a responsibility to work collaboratively. They must communicate common messages consistently. 

Their behaviors model the values of the organization and themselves. These leaders also give voice to the mission of the organization. 

The best leaders form their team carefully. Individuals on a leadership team may disagree and hold different viewpoints. Strong teams do. But those teams never leave the room without knowing and supporting their decisions. Solidarity of purpose absolutely must exist to realize the transformation of the entire system.

Leadership Teams and Culture

Leadership teams set the foundation for culture to emerge. You don’t like the culture. Take a close look at how senior leaders interact with each other and their staff.

A cohesive leadership team serves as the driving force behind creating a culture of excellence. Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage, makes the case that “few organizations invest nearly enough time and energy in making leadership teams cohesive, and certainly not at the level of rigor that it requires and deserves.”

Can you reach excellence without a cohesive leadership team? Maybe, but the work will take longer. Leaders will exert more effort. The risks to sustainability increase exponentially. 

Everyone, including employees, customers, and the community, watches how the leadership team demonstrates trust with each other. If they cannot see it or believe it, trust remains suspect.

I’ve seen leaders walk out of a meeting criticizing their colleagues or the work. They unwittingly undermine their goals with irrevocable results.

In one off-hand, casual comment, a culture of complaining can take root. The trust or distrust for each other and those who do the work runs deep.

Every member must commit to working as a team for the good of the whole—the system.

What happens before, during, and after your leadership meetings? What kind of culture emerges from leadership team behaviors?

And always—

Be kind. Be brave. Be you.