I have now worked with the leadership teams of more than one hundred organizations in crafting brand and business strategies. One of the things that people seldom talk about is corporate (or organizational) culture and its effect on the formulation of brand and business strategy. I would categorize leadership teams in the following groupings:
- High performing, completely functional teams comprised of individual members with high-level functional expertise and an astute leader who is able to draw upon and blend these skills in the most appropriate ways.
- Some leaders encourage intense competition amongst their people. This can be highly productive to a point. Past that point, it becomes destructive.
- Teams led by someone with a specific functional bias, often financial or operational, but sometimes marketing. Decisions tend to be filtered through the perspective of the leader’s functional expertise.
- Teams reporting to a person who has a strong personal and business agenda. Usually, the leader has a very large ego and often there is great team dysfunction. The quality of decision is based solely on the quality of the leader’s vision because no one else’s input really matters.
- Teams that are completely tactically focused, with no patience for strategic decision-making. The focus is on what is most expedient today with little regard for the longer-term competitive “chess game.”
- Consensus-management teams. Everyone must agree or nothing moves forward. It doesn’t matter if the outcome is optimal as long as people agree. The emphasis is on keeping everyone happy. These organizations tend not to adopt radical or breakthrough change.
- Completely risk-adverse environments in which management team members pretend to make decisions and promote change but in which no real change occurs because personal career risk is too great.
The trick in facilitating strategic decision-making is to quickly assess what type of team and leader one is working with to arrive at the best possible outcome given the optimal solution and the realities of the team dynamics.