Fearless Leadership and Cabinet Un-Solidarity

When I work with executive teams and ask them what they want from one another, ‘cabinet solidarity’ is usually high on the list. They want robust discussion around the board table, and then once made, the decision is supported by everyone.

Perhaps your leadership team has cabinet solidarity nailed? Or maybe one of these scenarios plays out around your board table when there is a controversial decision to be made:

  • CEO prevails: The CEO’s opinion is heard as an instruction or decision, and so others don’t bother to provide alternatives.
  • Loudest voice rules: The executive with most confidence, the loudest voice, or the most argumentative persistence hogs the discussion. Dissenting voices aren’t invited or heard.
  • All too nice: Everyone is outwardly supportive of the proposal, and there is no real examination of the risks or benefits.
  • No-one cares: Unless the decision directly impacts their patch, no-one is interested in bringing their A-game to the conversation.
  • Out of time: Day to day business soaks up exec meeting time, leaving little opportunity for meaningful debate on decisions.
  • Decisions made ‘off line’: By the time a controversial decision gets to the exec table it’s too late – the decision has been made and enacted.

Regardless of your version of un-solidarity, what happens next typically goes something like:

  • Conversations happen in the corridor after the meeting
  • Some members of exec support the decision, while others say things like “They made that decision – I didn’t support it/don’t think it will fly!”
  • Staff faith in the leadership ‘team’ is undermined
  • Decision gets implemented but key risks have been overlooked
  • Project isn’t successful
  • Exec team is bruised
  • Cycle begins again

What’s happening in your team? So this could all be the fault of someone else… Or maybe, just maybe, you are also contributing to an unhealthy (even dangerous) dynamic.

  • What are you wiling to do to turn this around in your team?
  • Who do you need to speak with first?
  • How will show up at your next leadership team meeting?

Fearless Leaders have the tough conversations that build and don’t bruise. How fearless will you be today?

Go fearlessly