The senior leadership team is arguably the most important group in any organization. They have the most overt power. Their decisions have implications for everyone else in the organization as well as for the future of the organization itself. Many people strive for admittance to that elite table. And yet the executive leadership team is often poorly resourced to accomplish its tasks. Members are selected because of their functional responsibilities or included because they “must not be left out,” so the assurance that they are really equipped to operate as the “Enterprise Team” cannot be assumed. In this brief, we will review what these groups have to do and what they need. We will consider why senior leadership team coaching might be important for their success and raise some cautions for those who would like to work in the field.

It may come as a surprise to some that the use of leadership teams at the top of major organizations is a relatively new phenomenon. The way top leadership is organized is a product of strong cultural patterns. The hegemony of U.S. and western European business models has shaped the forms that this has taken. A more typical U.S. structure is the strong CEO with a supporting Chief Operating Officer who is responsible for the internal operations of the organization. In organizations across the globe there are a variety of forms, often diverging based on the extent to which the company is family-owned or owned by an individual, the state, or the public. However, in the last decade, we’ve seen a rise in the use of senior teams for top leadership as the complexity resulting from globalization, increased diversity in both the marketplace and the organization, and similar factors has increased.

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