A Better Way to Build Your Leadership Team

In his best-selling book The Magic of Thinking Big, Dr. David J. Schwartz talks about the time he helped his friend pick out his new sales manager. His friend had started a business that was experiencing rapid growth, and it was time to promote a sales manager. There were three candidates, and the business owner wanted Dr. Schwartz to meet and evaluate all three.

To do this, Dr. Schwartz embarked on a 1950’s version of Undercover Boss and followed each candidate around for a day, pretending that he was a marketing consultant who was there to offer insights on how to make more sales. The first two candidates he followed had similar mindsets: they wanted to stick to the status quo, and didn’t want to see much change. They felt happy with what they were doing, and didn’t want anyone to “shake things up.”

The third candidate was happy to meet with a marketing consultant, and between client meetings would offer ideas that he had been thinking of. He even told Dr. Schwartz “I’m glad I have someone to tell my ideas to!”

Guess which candidate Dr. Schwartz recommended?

And yet, in many companies, management is often selected by who has the longest tenure, not who is the best thinker. When leadership is passively evolved, and not intentionally formed, businesses run into problems.

That’s why we’re here with a few strategies to form an effective leadership team.

What To Keep in Mind When Building Your Management Team

When selecting management and forming a leadership team, you want to include more than just department heads. After all, if you only select a few individuals with impressive titles, you may be leaving out some of your best thinkers! Instead, look for leaders that share your organization’s vision, mission, and values. These employees have the right mindset to drive your vision forward and make it a reality.

In addition to a winning mindset, look for leaders that drive innovation and are a strong culture fit. Being innovative, like candidate three in Dr. Schwartz’s story, and having the people skills to express and implement new ideas are strong indicators of a potential leader.

Ensure That Team Members Are Sharp

You’re looking for leaders that are great (emphasis on great) in four categories – business acumen, analytical ability, creativity, and people skills. Your management team directs your initiatives and directly impacts every facet of the employee experience, so don’t settle for mediocre in any of these four attributes. 

Hire Someone That You Would Want To Work For

Resist the urge to hire leaders that are clones of you, and develop an urge to find leaders that think of and execute ideas differently than you do. The great World War II general, George S. Patton, famously said, “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”

Your leadership team should be full of thinkers and leaders, not followers! Look for people that bring the skills, insight, and experience that you lack.

Look Beyond Your Management Team

Great managers are in high demand, which means that succession planning is an absolute must! A great company is always developing tomorrow’s leaders today. Developing a winning mindset in your middle management today will mean excellent leaders tomorrow when they must be called upon to handle the pressures of top leadership positions.

Following these steps is a sure-fire way to handcraft an effective, strong leadership team that drives results for your business from the top down. If you’re developing your leadership team with a focus on leadership roles, skills, and team cohesiveness, your business will go a long way!

Watch a 1-minute preview of “Strategies for Building Leadership Teams” from The BizLibrary Collection here:

An increasingly important aspect of being a leader is the ability to coach others. Watch our free webinar to learn how to build the coaching skills of your leaders and managers.

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Derek researches, discusses, and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. He regularly interviews L&D and HR professionals, sharing their insight on trends and best practices that help organizations create stronger training programs, and help to grow their employees and their business.