In my work with executive teams, I am sometimes surprised by their lack of clarity on team purpose.
Purpose exists at three levels:
- Individual purpose – What is my personal purpose? Why am I here? What role am I fulfilling?
- Team purpose – What is this team for? Why do we exist collectively? What is our role?
- Organisational purpose – What is this organisation here to achieve? What do we contribute?
Sometimes the first and last are clear, and yet the team lacks clarity and agreement on the purpose of their team.
Challenges can arise when executive leadership teams see themselves as a group of divisional heads, rather than co-leaders of the organisation. Individual executives may see their roles as representing the interests of ‘their people’, at the expense of embracing the collective role of being the leadership group responsible for the organisation.
Being a co-leader of the organisation may sometimes require you to participate in, and endorse, decisions that you might not support if you were purely a divisional head.
Silo structures and thinking can lead to tension around the executive table and hinder the development of shared purpose. At worst, strong divisional allegiances, reinforced by ego, can result in competitive behavior that is counter to team and organisational effectiveness.
Helping the team develop a shared purpose is a critical first step in embracing Fearless Leadership.
How clear is your executive team on its purpose? What role can you play in building a shared purpose?