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Managing your boss... and team members

Right around the time I started my first job, the first version of this article, ‘Managing your Boss’, was published by the Harvard Business Review. That must have been somewhere around 1980. The topic still remains relevant today: they recently published it again, you can read it here. The culture of the executive team is fundamental to the success of an organization. If the members of the team ensure a healthy balance between stimulating & correcting each other and unburdening the chairperson so he can execute his or her role, the foundation for fruitful cooperation has been laid. We all still seem to be rather unable to prepare candidates for a management board role. We build a career on a craft. If you are lucky, with some half-baked leadership development. However, we do not learn to support nor to lead each other’s horizontal colleagues. Let alone the chairman… Who realizes that as a member of an executive team you spend roughly one-third of your time “leading” the chairman and your fellow board members, one-third leading your own managers, and only one-third of your time is left for your ’own job’, understands this. Furthermore, a chairman who understands his contribution, likewise, only does three things: gathering the best people around him/her. Defining the overall company goal together with its team and ensuring that every team member is equipped as well as able to carry the individual and collective responsibility. And lastly, but certainly not the least, relentlessly explaining to all stakeholders over and over again what the organization is aiming for and why. Authors Gabarro and Kotter are not talking about showering your CEO with flattery: rather, they ask their readers to understand that inter-executive team relationships are one of interdependence. Chairmen and executive team members need cooperation, reliability, and honesty from their colleagues. Executives, on their part, rely on the chairman to liaise with the organization's stakeholders, to set priorities and to obtain critical resources. Therefore, it makes total sense to work on mutual relationships so that they run as smoothly as possible. Successfully developing relationships with your chairman and the other board members require a clear understanding of their position, as well as your own. Particularly think about strengths, weaknesses, work styles and needs. Once you know what hinders or facilitates communication, you can start working on developing relationships. Only then you’ll arrive at a way of working together that suits you all, that is characterized by unambiguous mutual expectations, and that makes everyone more productive and effective. Undoubtedly, some executives will resent having to take responsibility for relationships with their fellow executives in addition to all their other duties. But these people don't realize that in this way they won’t simplify their work, eliminate potentially serious problems nor improve overall company productivity. Do know you’re welcome to exchange thoughts. On how to find and select candidates for a board role. Or on how you yourself can continuously develop, both for yourself as well as for the benefit of the other board members. Or any other topic of interest to you.

Warm regards,



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