Anonymous Career Advice

Designing The Ideal Management Team

This week’s anonymous career advice is connected to organisational design and scaling businesses in the right way. I break down five essential roles to be successful with.

Dear focus
We are struggling to build our leadership team, we are growing and it’s time to mature, what does the ideal management team look like? 

Management teams and leadership teams are unique to every business.

Every business requires something a little different, from the way you are created, the people you included and then those you invite regularly to the team you rely upon to make the most important decisions in the growth and in some cases the survival of your company. 

When designing your organisation, team design is difficult, department design has more complexities, the management team is typically seen as the easiest part as you invite the most senior around the table. I believe this is where many companies get this wrong, your management team should be those who excel at their jobs and take the extra responsibilities on and “play their role” and something that is constantly overlooked destressing the business. 

Here are the roles I believe you should have on your leadership team: 

The Approachable One 🙋‍♀️

The one leader who is the approachable member of the team. 

The senior person who people know they will listen, will have discussions and have the ear of the people while leading discussions from a management perspective. 

This role requires a deep knowledge of company culture and the organisations health.

The approachable one is the person that many will go to when they do not trust their own department lead or HR team. These leads are even valuable the bigger you grow to. 

The Communicator 🗣

This is the hardest role for many to take on. 

The communicator is the one who has the ability to take the 3c’s (1) the complicated, (2) the complex and (3) the critical and deliver these messages within the business. 

It is important the communicator is not always the external spokesperson. 

The communicator does not have to be the most senior (aka the HiPPO) or the founder/part of the founding team, however, the chosen one who can speak as well in person and as on email and deliver important messages from rallying the troops, to inspiring to delivering hard messages that will cause disappointment and in some cases job losses. 

The communicator needs to be able to teach their skill to others. 

The Numbers Explainer 🧠

I have worked with two incredible senior financial management team members, their core strength other than creating and controlling the numbers was telling stories around the numbers and being able to show the build and talk to how we were going to get there not just police the numbers.  

The numbers explainer has to know the difference between mission, vision and strategy

I truly believe that this lead role does not have to be from the FD or CFO but in the world where stories beat spreadsheets and long PowerPoint presentations, this role is a fundamental part of the leadership team and will offer incredible balance and drive within your business. 

If you have an FD or CFO who cannot stand up and deliver a performance like this, you should either find them a partner to deliver this or help to train to do this. 

The Visionary 👩‍🏫

The future seer.
The person living in the long term future and brings those along with them. 

These people help to shape the future with ease and are driving the business for positive change. They do not have to be from a Product, Growth or Marketing background, however, this helps as their roles are pulling the company forward, bringing the current company to the future company alongside building and targeting the right people for now and the future 

The Visionary is often the person who will be part of important discussions such as, your hybrid future, the future of work, your workplace(s) of the future and how to reshape your business alongside digital transformation projects. 

The Leader 💪

This is arguably the most obvious partner you require, however, it is often the role that many confuse. 

When the going gets tough, the teams look for one clear leader. 

Founders, co-founders, co-CEO’s, COO vs CEO are all battles you have internally and only in the “boardroom” and on small and private email chains, however, it is imperative that everyone knows who to look towards when they have the most important questions. 

The leader is the person who you will want to promote alongside your companies story, the person who will be on TV or radio when something bad happens and the person who will be requested to appear on podcasts and speak on panels and at conferences.  

It is important this role cannot be treated as a HiPPO.

Two Optional Roles 

1. The Hype Lead

The hype lead is the person who will get the rest of the management team in line and onboard.
The person who will take over and above to communicate in everyone’s language, to remove some of the friction that is caused and when needed to hype the floor up and also hype up the management team when the floor has something to say, show or standup for. 

2. The Contrarian

You should be playing devil’s advocate in leadership meetings, you should be challenging each other and taking turns on who is the contrarian. Very often one person takes this role on full time and is known for taking this up, unfortunately, the contrarian can create friction and not know when to stop.  

Internal vs External

In the coming weeks consider how you look internally to fill these roles, consider if you have these already in house leads or you need to hire for these. 

It is going to be a challenge to reshape the department around new leads. 

Consider how quickly you need to build out your leadership team and how you could divide the five roles if required. It is important to note by dividing the five roles you will be challenging yourselves to be crystal clear and be deliberate about who to go to for what and when. 

Best of luck building out your leadership team. 


Danny Denhard

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