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Top Management Team Development
Assessing and reshaping the top management team for improved performance
 

Every top management team is competing not only to protect the firm’s position within existing markets, but to position the organization to succeed in new markets. Any top management team that fails to take responsibility for building and strengthening its competence is inadvertently mortgaging the organization’s future.

Lawson International Ltd. provides a custom approach for systematically assessing and reshaping the top management team for improved organizational and competitive performance.

Integrated Approach For Strengthening Top Management Teams

Top management teams can be strengthened according to a wide array of approaches but, ultimately, an assessment of development needs and subsequent interventions must be considered in concert. As the key strategic decision-making unit, the top management team has multiple facets which collectively determine its nature and performance. These leadership team characteristics influence each other, potentially giving rise to distinct patterns or consistencies which have great significance for the quality and performance of the top management team in running the business.

Ultimately, all the characteristics of a top executive team — its composition, structure, process, incentives, and the team leader — influence each other. For example, the composition of a team will affect its processes, its structure will affect its incentives, the team leader’s personality will affect structure, and so on. These various alignments may occur because of intentional efforts to achieve “fit,” because of unarticulated executive biases or preferences, or simply by trial and error.

The Top Management Team in Context

The characteristics of the top management team do not occur by happenstance. Rather they are the result of contextual forces, some direct and others indirect and subtle, which impact how to approach an executive team development process. Situated in the heights of their organizations, executive teams have substantial influence over organizational results; and, top executive teams are, themselves, shaped by forces beyond their own boundaries. That is, top management teams are both causes and effects of their business contexts, and our approach to executive team development embraces this broader perspective as well. The foundation of our team assessment and development strategy entails examining:

Your business environment (market, regulatory, competitive, and economic, and other factors outside the organization).

The organization (its purpose, product/market strategy, policies, processes, and culture).

The performance goals of the organization (profitability, growth, and achievement of other objectives).

Therefore, our consulting approach acknowledges the linkages between the characteristics of the top management team, recognizing the team both as affected by context and as affecting context.

Challenges Facing Top Management Teams

Obvious greatness in the executive team will not in itself assure strategic success. There are many examples of “high-caliber” top management teams who have operated in ways that have nullified their raw talents. However, team qualities are the essential foundation for seizing control of the various challenges facing the business.

These challenges include such initiatives as —

Building and balancing diverse organizational capabilities.

Defining the boundaries of the business’ opportunity horizon.

Managing successfully across national borders to seize global opportunities.

Strengthening and revitalizing the enterprise by leveraging resources.

Implementing breakthrough strategies for competing for the future.

Establishing and accomplishing ‘stretch targets’.

Shaping and maximizing migration paths between today’s markets and industry structure and tomorrow’s.

Investing, preemptively, in reinventing the leadership competence of the top management team will enhance its capability in meeting these types of competitive challenges.

Building Executive Team Competence for the Future

Whether the source of altered learning requirements and leadership team development is within or outside your organization, shocks outside the team create the need for renewed active thinking and problem solving to replace routinized behavioral patterns.

Lawson International works with executive teams — in both domestic and global business environments — by strategically reviewing areas of individual and collective team competence to identify opportunities for enhanced team performance within the context of business requirements. This diagnostic phase serves as a “change platform” for the design and implementation of a series of interrelated though carefully crafted executive team development processes.

Our initial analysis entails examining both the environmental business shifts that are occurring and changes in the strategic orientation within your organization that the leadership team must prudently manage. This context includes external factors as well as internal organizational dimensions — purpose, process, structure, and culture. The profile of the ideal leadership team for managing in this context is then crafted and, in turn, serves as the prescriptive benchmark for the launch of follow-on, leadership team development interventions. These include sessions focused on building organizational capabilities, improving teamwork, leveraging resources, and seizing global business opportunities.

In all of our executive team development engagements, our consulting approach is premised on the basis that top management teams are vehicles for creating and sustaining competitive performance for an organization. Further, we have found that there is no such thing as a universally ideal top management team. The appropriate mix of qualities depends on the context in which the executives must perform, how the members fit with each other, their characteristics, and the expected organizational results and challenges facing them.

 

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