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Anonymous Career Advice

Disconnected Leadership Team

Today’s anonymous career advice comes from an “anonymous COO” from a “well-known internet company”, who’s ELT has become disconnected and fractured since working remotely.

Dear Focus, since we have moved remote and WFH, the leadership team has become disconnected and we rarely agree on the direction and what is most important. I feel like it is impacting my career. What should I do to help?

I would imagine you and 50% of management and leadership teams are feeling the same and facing very similar issues.

Having spoken to a number of c-suite members over the last six months, many leaders feel they have lost connection with their fellow management team.

The common complaint or cause is the number of meetings they are all attending, the lack of progress being made and the friction of not having clear goals and objectives as a team.

When it comes to your own career, it will only impact you if you feel disconnected from the work and you and your team performance are being impacted. As a COO your role has likely never been as important for your firm’s long term success.

For additional context, a very senior ELT member recently suggested in their 30+ year career and the last decade on leadership teams, he has never seen as much friction while working remotely. Their answer was to book a “work through everything day”.

It is important to remember you are not alone, however, addressing your particular management team would require direct action from your team.

Questions To Answer:

  • Do your fellow leaderships team feel the same?
    Speak to the CEO to see how they feel. If you have close relationships with your CMO or CTO they will likely feel similar.
  • Has anyone attempted to call out or address the elephant in the room?
    Often this just takes someone to raise this. As COO you would be in a trusted position to raise this.
  • What are the common pain points?
  • Where do you commonly fall down?
  • Are the leadership protecting their teams vs trying to be proactive and come together to address the issues?
  • Is there a running theme where meetings and discussion fail?
  • Do you follow the same meeting patterns?
  • Is there one or two members of the management team who are internal influencers who create friction or could help to collaborate to improve this?
  • Is this a wider reflection of your company’s culture?

Recommendations

I would create a dedicated meeting to discuss this, have an agenda to call out common issues and then create a timeline with your fellow management team to address these issues. An external consultancy or external management coach will be able to facilitate and help reduce friction and create an action plan whilst reducing the stress on individuals to lead this internally.

If there is an internal conflict between a couple or a few of the members of the leadership team, the Focus power half hours will be a good methodology and tool to follow.

In a recent Focus management training sessions, a ten-person leadership team and I ran through a number of exercises to get to know each other, created workshops where they reviewed their workdays, meetings, reduced down meeting recovery syndrome and introduced a management pod system connecting the ELT with each other, sharing knowledge, increasing the amount of time they spend together and reporting back and tackling issues together.

Just remember most conflicts take a number of months to work through effectively and up to six months of no change to work at optimal levels for a team.

Good luck.

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