There are three types of executive leadership teams. There’s the type that doesn’t participate in growing themselves or the team they are a part of. Their reasoning is they don’t have the time, the need, or the interest because they are too busy running their business. The second kind of executive team really wants to learn to be more successful and even goes so far as to take steps in the right direction, yet they fail to follow through and thus don’t reap the benefits of learning and growth. The third type of leadership team recognizes that they are the barometer for everything that happens in their organization and commit to a learning agenda that helps the executive grow individually and collectively as a team, because they understand this will cascade through the ranks.
Which of these teams would you want to be a part of or work for?
Which of these executives teams do you think is the most agile and adaptable for changes in the marketplace?
Which of these executive teams sets the example for a highly engaging work environment?
I’ve worked with over 100 senior leadership teams in the past 15 years and I put my money on the third type of leadership team. Learning leadership teams have a vulnerability and a strong desire to develop themselves and this is a powerful and motivating example for the rest of the business.
So if you are part of an executive team that doesn’t set the burning to learn example, or you’re a senior HR leader encouraging your senior team to work on themselves before they ask others to do the same, how can you get the executive team take action? Here are four ways to encourage executive leadership teams to set the example they expect of others:
Benchmark with the Best
High performance organizations demonstrate that learning and growth starts at the top. There are always exceptions, but most exceptions aren’t in the front of the pack, they are at the back of the pack. Benchmark yourselves against the best.
Stakeholder Reality Test
Survey the stakeholders to the executive leadership team. Shareholders, Supervisory Boards, Employees and Customers will share how they see an Executive team performing and it’s often a different picture than the one the team will share about themselves.
Never Talk Training, Talk Business Outcomes
Most executive teams I’ve worked with genuinely want to do the right thing. They want to be successful yet somewhere along the line they have stopped holding themselves accountable for learning and growth. While many teams feel they are too experienced or busy to attend a training, all executives want to improve their business results. This is the portal to engage executives – the right kind of executive learning translates into better outcomes. It’s good for their business.
Executive TEAM Learning
Executives are busy people and there is a lot at stake with their executive agenda. Any executive learning program should be done as a team, not as an individual who goes off to a country club learning environment. Executives must perform together to be successful and therefore they need to learn together. How else can they hold themselves accountable?
When you lay a log next to several that are burning, soon that new log is burning as well – this is what happens when executive teams burn to learn – it get contagious and soon you have an organization that is learning and growing faster than the rate of change.
So stop sitting around the learning campfire and get your logs on the fire – start burning to learn and light a fire under your executive leadership team and your business.