EXECUTIVE TEAM ALIGNMENT
A special Build supplement in the November 2013 issue of Inc. magazine.
With apologies to Tolstoy, many unhappy teams are, in fact, alike. A survey of 146 growth companies conducted by Build this summer found that misalignment is not random. Patterns do exist, often coalescing around five pressure points that company leaders cited time and again.
Build’s finding that executives often disagree about strategic goals is reinforced by related research conducted by Inc. Navigator, a team-alignment diagnostic and tracking tool for CEOs, which over the past five years has surveyed executives at roughly 600 emerging growth companies. Asked to list their companies’ top three priorities, executive team members were in sync at just 2 percent of companies. There was even less consensus, if that’s possible, when executives were asked about their company’s value proposition, according to Inc. Navigator CEO Brent Sapp.
“Leadership consistency is a second-stage challenge that impacts nearly all companies as they move through the no-man’s-land from startup to the middle market,” Sapp says. In other words, your top team is almost certainly out of whack. Even worse, you are probably in denial about it: 64 percent of Build survey respondents predicted that their executive team’s strategic priorities would match up nearly perfectly.
The importance of transparency is clear (75 percent called it critical), but growth has a curious way of clouding your team’s collective view. The organizations that survive, Sapp says, are those that block out the noise and focus clearly on what customers hire their company to do.
“Some companies starve; others choke,” says Neal Sharma (@nealusa), CEO of digital marketing company DEG. Sharma’s team has grown 230 percent in the past five years. When companies add headcount at that kind of clip, managers face a huge challenge in keeping everyone on the same page. Tell us: How does your company build alignment during the onboarding process, so that even your newest team members are clear on companywide priorities and how their role contributes?