As a CEO, the people in your senior executive team have two functions –
- leading their own people and delivering on expected results for the functions they are responsible for
- leading the organisation collectively, ensuring the organisation is sustained into the future.
Both functions are necessary. However, they can also be in conflict with each other, for example, when decisions need to be made in the best interests of the business, not a specific function.
Focussed on what they might typically see as their primary role and for which they likely have most loyalty (leading their own team), many senior executives forget they have that second important function as part of the senior executive team – the collective leading of the whole organisation. This second function is often over-looked by senior leaders who leave it to the CEO to do the organisational leading.
This is one example of the invisible architecture of your senior executive team.
Invisible architecture also shows itself in the variation in relationship strength across the executive team. ‘Pat’, for example, heading up Marketing, has a very strong relationship with ‘Robin’ who leads Service Delivery. When Pat decides something needs to happen it gets budgeted and it gets done. And vice versa.
A third scenario where invisible architecture shows itself is the situation where a particular leadership role appears to be tainted. Whoever occupies the role can’t make a success of it. For example, you may have experienced 3 CFOs in 6 months and the Board is questioning why you can’t keep CFOs. Invisible architecture is at work here regarding the role of the CFO?
All teams have invisible architecture. Understanding the patterns and principles of this architecture can help to keep your organisation in flow and your teams thriving.
Tim Dyke, Leading Well