Delegation is the key to having a high-performing executive team, says Gus McIntosh, business psychologist and chief executive of HR firm Winsborough.
"In organisations we have a range of people that can do the job and the goal of senior teams is to help orchestrate that and to stand out from daily transactional issues and orchestrate the rest of the organisation to fix things and move things along," McIntosh said at today's CEO Summit held at Auckland's Langham Hotel.
He said New Zealand's senior teams had failed to adapt to changing environments over the past 10 years. Geographical isolation has had a big role in this.
"There's probably two factors, one is that it's part of our psych; I think there is a natural tenancy for Kiwis to be optimistic, and I think the second is probably that we suffer from the isolation at the other end of the world. The difference now is changing rapidly in terms of the internet economy."
McIntosh said the Kiwi 'can-do' optimism was not enough.
"As senior teams what we really need to be doing is challenging the way we operate, and think differently about the world because the world is coming to us in a very fast way," McIntosh said.
Winsborough research into how senior teams function reveals CEOs are far more involved in daily operations than ever before.
"It's hard to know exactly why," he said.
"Primarily I think there's the nature of the complexity of what we are dealing with and the lack of predictability means that CEOs tend to believe by getting more personally involved then they will be bale to resolve some of these issues."
Good senior teams are those who have team cohesion, good operation processes, shared direction and internal trust and safety, McIntosh said.
"Get clear around roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of the team. We too often as CEOs focus on organisational outcomes, KPIs or individual outcomes, but we don't focus on the team as a unit, so being clear on what a good team looks like is quite important."
Transparency was also paramount, he said.
What we find for senior teams which are more transparent is a greater willingness from the rest of the organisation to be enthusiastic about what the team is trying to achieve.
"What we find for senior teams which are more transparent is a greater willingness from the rest of the organisation to be enthusiastic about what the team is trying to achieve," McIntosh said. "If the senior team is not being very transparent about their goals then it creates a culture of suspicion and mistrust which we know doesn't perform very well in organisations."
Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation CEO and panellist Adrian Orr said he believed the difference between a team and a great team was care and concern.
"The difference between team and great team is a Richter scale of difference. It means yes, we are helping each other, yes we're trusting each other, but to be a great team you need to have a real care and concern for each other," he said.
Making company culture known and a priority can strengthen teams, Orr said.
How do you know when you've got a good executive team?
"I always like to think if you've been successful as a manager, you've made yourself redundant," Orr said.
Orr said having workplace framework makes life easier.
"If you've all agreed and have the common language on your purpose [in] existing and you've all agreed on what your [company] beliefs are and what your target culture is then you can get on and operate with fun, with collective energy and with a wide range of variety, very easily," he said.
"Take small steps but keep moving, get people to commit to the first steps and keep moving that bar all the time."
What all good exec teams share
1. Team cohesion, unity
2. Good team processes, have honest conversations
3. Good team directions, shared goals
4. Trust & safety
• Being clear
• Focus on working as a unit
• Build internal trust