“There are hidden agendas in my team. Everyone seems friendly on the outside but there are unspoken issues under the surface,” a CEO recently shared with me.
“Can you help us deal with our hidden agendas so we can put our energy and ideas back into our real business?” he asked.
We’ve all been in situations where the business agenda was being discussed, yet you could feel there were other forces at play, a hidden agenda present. Emotions and perceptions that don’t come “above the water” discourage people from collaborating in meaningful ways because there is a lack of trust between key players. This puts your team and your business at risk.
For executive leadership teams, hidden agendas can cripple to your organization’s performance. First, hidden agendas inhibit people from being open and honest with each other, preventing the kind of conversations that must take place at the executive level to be successful and two, no matter how clever you are, the hidden agenda game is clear to those outside the leadership team. People begin to take sides in the hidden agenda game and performance suffers because people start to play by the hidden agenda rules instead of the rules designed for your company to be distinctive and successful.
Leadership teams are known for their work above the iceberg, the material reality including target setting, strategy creation and process optimization and they must be ready to work on the bottom of the iceberg, the non-material reality where lack of trust, respect, power, legacies and mis-alignment of key players can lead to hidden agendas and emotional viruses.
Hidden agendas and emotional viruses are natural expressions of imbalances in the non-material reality. It’s normal for a leadership team to temporarily suffer from such imbalances, however highly effective leadership teams recognize that if you don’t address these issues, your hidden agendas won’t go away and performance will suffer.
Here are four ways to clean your house (and your team of hidden agendas:
- Use an external, objective third party to interview members of your executive teamto understand how they see the current situation and the degree of collaboration / alignment between leadership team members. These interviews are confidential in nature and later the results can be consolidated and shared with the entire leadership team, facilitated by the third party. This exposes the hidden agendas which is the start of the transformation process.
- Let members of the management team paint (yes, that’s right, paint) a picture of how they experience collaboration in the executive team. A picture tells 1000 words and these visualization experiences can lead to real breakthroughs in authentic conversation for the team.
- Map the relationships between the executive team members. Best to do this with an external third party, you can use different colors between the people to identify the quality of the relationships and can start the realignment process in dysfunctional relationships.
- Identify the hidden viruses and reverse engineer them for positive team work. Create standards of excellence and best practices to anchor positive interactions between people.
It is important to remember the work under the water, or the lower two thirds of the iceberg is subjective in nature, this means it’s how each person’s sees it. This requires a different mindset and orientation than evaluating aspects of your material reality, which is objective in nature because you can measure it.
Executive leadership teams are surprised and grateful by how quickly they can address and transform hidden agendas when managed in a professional way.
Don’t waste anymore time carry hidden agendas in your executive team or anywhere in your organization.
Start the conversation today.