How to create a unified hybrid leadership team

Business Impact: How to create a unified hybrid leadership team
Business Impact: How to create a unified hybrid leadership team

Although leadership teams are not family, they will be successful in managing world-class teams if they are unified.

A few years ago, a San Francisco–based software company asked me to help them fix a problem they were having regarding what they called a toxic workplace culture. The CEO complained that his leadership team were not getting along and they were constantly arguing over how to operate the business. As a result, business growth had been slowing down, the company was struggling to hit its revenue goals and deadlines were often missed.

When I joined the first meeting with the senior leadership team, I spotted a few patterns immediately. The chief marketing officer’s (CMO) approach to business was completely separate from and even clashing against the chief revenue officer’s (CRO) approach to business. Each of them had different goals, each of them strongly believing that their own set of goals was the one and only, and each of them not listening to the other party. What’s more, both seemed more aligned with their subordinates than with their peers. This translated into fruitless leadership meetings, poor business performance, and a very toxic work environment where blaming was common practice.

As I started working with the group and sharing some of the strategies and techniques for building a high-performing and inclusive team, I noticed a shift in the way the CMO and CRO treated each other. As we were going through one of the workshops one morning, I caught the CMO saying to the CRO, “I realise that I have not taken your goals into consideration as much as I should have and I want to change that. I have been revisiting my marketing strategy and including your goals and I asked my team to also be measured on new goals that include yours”.

This was an ‘aha’ moment for the entire leadership team and a real turning point. From that moment on, the entire culture of the leadership team shifted from a blame culture to a unified team culture, and it translated into every aspect of the business. Within a few months, the business’ revenue was getting back on track and its growth accelerated.

Leadership myths

Many business leaders have asked me over the last 18 months how they can continue to lead hybrid teams successfully, even after the Covid-19 pandemic. How can they balance trust, engagement and unity in this new complex way of working? As a diversity and inclusion consultant and author who spent a decade studying what makes teams successful, I spent years working with teams and, in particular, hybrid teams to identify what makes them successful in a hybrid environment. I would like to share some well-known leadership myths that should be avoided at all costs:

Leaders have all the answers:
This is a very damaging claim. On the contrary, leaders have a very clear understanding of their own limitations, which helps them build unity with their peers. Leaders know that constant growth and learning is what makes a great leader. They also understand that leading is a team sport and they must seek help from their peers if they want to be successful. “If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together,” says the African proverb. Great leaders understand that unity with their peers through asking questions is key to great leadership.

Great leaders are born, not made:
The idea that leadership is an inherited feature rather than a skill that is learnt is very dangerous and damaging; the skills that make a leader great are learnt and developed, like any other skill. I would even argue that a great leader is entirely made and not born; all the skills that make a leader great are human skills that anyone can develop – communication, accountability, empathy, humility, resilience, vision, influence, confidence and positivity. Great leaders constantly grow by learning from their peers, which creates great unity in the group.

Leaders must eliminate mistakes:
On the contrary, leaders see mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow. Great leaders can see the difference between work that is lacking and unforeseen mistakes. Unforeseen mistakes demonstrate that the employee is taking risks and being accountable for their work, which leads to growth; unified leadership teams make mistakes together and grow together.

Rise above misconceptions

In summary, great leaders know that unity in leadership is key and they rise above the most common leadership misconceptions. They understand what it takes to create a truly unified leadership team in hybrid work. Outstanding leaders attract, develop and retain successful teams in a hybrid world by building unity among their leaders, especially in hybrid work.

BGA members can receive a 20% discount off the RRP for The Successful Hybrid Team, courtesy of the BGA Book Club. Click here for details

Business Impact: Perrine Farque

This is an edited extract from The Successful Hybrid Team: What The Best Hybrid Teams Know About Culture That Others Don’t (But Wish They Did) by Perrine Farque, published by Wiley.

Perrine Farque is a diversity and inclusion expert who has helped transform the culture of organisations such as Facebook, Microsoft and IBM. She is the founder and director of Inspired Human, a London-based agency specialised in helping organisations grow their business through diversity and inclusion programmes.

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