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Building your top team

Module 5: The seven responsibilities of a leader

You can’t grow a company by yourself. You may want to. You may think you should be able to. And since no one else could possibly know your business like you do, you may question how much value others can bring. But unless you put an executive team in place to share responsibility and decision-making, you will become the bottleneck to growth. Selecting, managing and leading an executive team is one of the seven core responsibilities of the CEO of a growing company.

A great executive team extends the mission, values, vision and plan throughout the company, helps you keep the company aligned and executing, and accelerates growth. Your team needs to be comprised of people who can take on three significant roles: managing their operations, executing the company’s plan and strategies and helping you fulfil some of your leadership roles and responsibilities.

The roles and responsibilities of a top team

Each team member must be capable of fulfilling all of the following roles and responsibilities:

Leaders of their functional area must:

  • be accomplished in their functional area, e.g. sales, finance, marketing
  • manage their functional area(s) and the resources allocated to them to achieve company goals
  • attract and retain great people
  • communicate effectively so that everyone in their unit understands the company’s mission, values, vision and plan, how their job relates to that plan and the results expected of them.

Members of the executive team must:

  • manage the implementation of the company’s plan
  • be role models for teamwork, innovation, and problem-solving
  • help other team members succeed.

Members of your leadership team must:

  • help you develop the plan and strategies for growth
  • protect and build a company culture that supports growth
  • reinforce and communicate key messages to employees
  • optimise resources to achieve company goals.

Scrutinise each high-level candidate as if you were hiring your replacement

How to build a great top team

To build a great executive team, you’ll need to be thoughtful about the people you hire and promote. Scrutinise each high-level candidate as if you were hiring your replacement – because in a sense, you are. You need to select people who can take on some of your current responsibilities, so you can take on the new roles required at the next stage of growth. Look for people you can trust, who are curious, self-starters, and have the capacity to handle new duties that you will delegate to them. Look for people who have good judgment, treat others with respect, and meet or exceed performance expectations.

If they are afraid to hire people smarter than them that’s a red flag

One of your roles as leader is to coach each team member to be successful and to encourage the whole team to behave and think as a team. Teach them to hire great people, delegate appropriately and build strength in their own departments. If they are afraid to hire people smarter than them, or are unable to groom the next generation of company leaders, that’s a red flag. Remind reluctant team members that one criteria for promotion is having people ready to step into their shoes. Developing the next generation of company leaders is one of your – and their – critical responsibilities.

Grow with your top team

For your company to grow, you need to move out of operations and focus on the external environment, adjust your strategy to maximise opportunities and position the company for continued growth. But for that to happen, your executive team needs to take on the responsibility of running the company on a day-to-day basis.

Your executive team will need to help you create a big-picture vision as the company grows, bringing their specialised knowledge and different perspectives. With the right team, you’ll be able to collectively develop a new vision and strategy for growth that will be far better than anything you could have developed on your own.

A great executive team is an essential requirement of growth. There’s no question that selecting and building a team is a challenge, in addition to getting a diverse set of people aligned around a common goal. But if you can select, develop and lead an effective executive team, you’ll be able to sustain growth that’s greater than you ever imagined.

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