Skip to content

Five Tips for Building a Leadership Team

Building a leadership team isn’t even a concern until your business succeeds and grows. Early on, your business may just be you and a great idea. And as you grow, you begin to surround yourself with helpers—the people who allow you to get more things done.

But there are only so many helpers you can manage 1:1. Soon you find yourself transitioning from the person who drives activity to the one holding things up. Why? Because everyone needs you to tell them what’s crucial that day. When you start to feel this in your business, it’s time to surround yourself with leaders who can manage the helpers.

You won’t hire an entire team all at once. A leadership team is something you will build over time. Adding leaders in critical areas to ensure the right things are done every day. Here’s the thing, though, starting with leadership hire 1, you must get it right. So, here are five tips that will ensure you are building a leadership team that will take your business to the next level.

Match Your Passion, Not Your Strengths

We tend to like people most like ourselves. We think, “my strengths have gotten me this far; bringing on more people like me will take us even further!”

And that shows a lack of self-awareness. Every leader has strengths they bring to the table. But they also bring weaknesses. The opportunity to build your leadership team is to surround yourself with people who compensate for your weakness. If you’re great at sales, you might want to hire someone great at building processes or taking care of the financials.

What you do want to match is your passion. Someone who wants to fill the need you see in the market as much as you do. Building a leadership team driving the business forward with the same passion will ensure you always maintain strong momentum.

Build Your Team Around Core Values

One of the tools I use with all my clients is the Core Values Index. This tool helps identify the energies that drive us and do not vary over time. The four core values are Builder (Power to move forward), Merchant (A Focus on people/team), Innovator (Wisdom, a focus on ideas), and Banker (Knowledge, a focus on data, analytics, and history). We all carry two of these values as dominant in our personality. You can take the Core Values Assessment and see your results.

So what does this mean when building your team?

First, you want a diversity of these energies on your leadership team. A team full of Innovators will have the power to create options and ideas but may struggle with execution. A team full of Builders will get a  lot done but won’t always find the best path and exhaust everyone in the business. So getting a solid balance and listening to that balance will make you more successful.

Second, different roles require a diverse mix of core energies. You want to understand where each part will spend their time throughout the day and week. Someone who spends most of their time running numbers, looking at productivity, etc., will need more Banker Energy. Someone who needs to go out and prospect for sales aggressively will need more Builder energy. You can build profiles for all your critical roles and be sure to hire right the first time.

Align with Your Values

There are many ways to lead a business. And each of those ways creates the unique and distinct culture of your organization. More than ever, prospective employees are looking at business culture and values before signing on the dotted line to join it.

As the leader or owner of your business, it’s up to you to first set what that culture will be. And then, when you begin to hire your leadership team, everyone you add must support and live those cultural values. Otherwise, they won’t fit. They won’t lead in the ways that you believe are important.

You can’t, for example, have a culture based on the importance of work/life balance and then hire a leader who expects their team to work 80 hours per week. It simply will not work long term. You will shed the very employees who were so attracted to working or you in the first place.

Building a leadership team that aligns vertically and horizontally

Once you start creating your leadership team, focus on aligning it. I often see that each direct report makes a plan for their division that aligns with the leader’s priorities. And that’s a great place to start.

But it is not where you end. Productive leadership teams ensure they are also aligned horizontally to understand the priorities for their area of responsibility and where they interact with their peer’s areas of responsibility.

I once facilitated a strategic planning meeting where members discussed their big goals and achieved them through new products and content strategies. It was fascinating. Until it got to the person whose team was responsible for delivering on all that content, when her turn came, she looked around the room and said, “I hope your plans have the budget to triple the size of my team because that is what we will need to deliver on all this.” That led to many long conversations, proving the team was not horizontally aligned.

Each Leader Knows The Leadership Team is Their Team

Once you establish a leadership team, they will focus on developing and leading their teams. Of course, that’s precisely what you want them to do. But, you must also work with your leadership team to ensure they understand who their preliminary squad is.

Their primary team is the one to whom they are accountable. The one that is their priority, that keeps confidentiality, and whose goals are predominant. And in all cases, that team is the leadership team. When your leaders place their loyalty to their teams, you will see a silo mentality develop. They want to protect that silo without consideration for the overall business. And that will not work for you long term.

Every leadership team member must make their first commitment to that team.

Leaders often think putting a team together is as simple as filling out an application and conducting interviews. However, if you want your business to reach its potential, it’s essential to take the time to build a leadership team that will work well together. Following these tips for assembling a great team can create a productive and successful culture in your organization. How have you gone about building your leadership team?

Great leadership teams have great meetings; download Ten Rules for Better Meetings to take your team to the next level.