Making Change Stick: Bicycle Wheels and Spider Webs

The senior leadership or executive team is probably one of the most important groups in any organisation. They carry the vision, establish culture and represent the leader. The quality of the relationships within this group is a role model to all staff. It is essential that the leader and this team spend time investing in relationships.

Lieutenant is a term often designated as the second-in-command, derived from the French lieu, meaning ‘in the place of’. If every captain has a team of lieutenants, then my maths tells me that there are plenty more second-in-command, than those at the top.

An effective group of senior executives working alongside the leader is essential and enables:

  • The leader’s success and so, the organisation’s success
  • Sustainability of the vision
  • Building and reinforcing the desired culture
  • Modelling an effective team across the organisation
  • Achieving the desired outcomes
  • Complementing strengths and minimising weaknesses

Above all, the essence of an effective and productive executive team is unity – supporting the leader, relating as a close-knit team and keeping the vision up front. Being a good lieutenant can be challenging, especially for those who are seeking a ‘top job’ themselves someday.

There are a number of factors that will work against the executive team being effective, including

  • Inability to work as a team
  • Unhealthy ambition within the team members
  • Lack of cohesion
  • Unsupported mission, vision and values
  • Lone rangers who want to save the world single-handedly

It takes a significant effort to develop an extraordinary relationship between the members of the leadership team, one that goes beyond defining the relationship as co-worker, and becomes colleague, comrade or even friend. When the quality of relationships and the closeness of the bonds within the members of this leadership group is high they are more effective in achieving the vision. It builds loyalty, trust and durability.

How does this quality and depth of relationship occur?

Not a bicycle wheel but a spider’s web

The bicycle wheel puts the leader at the hub where the majority of communication and relating is back and forth, everything needs to go past the eyes and ears of the leader. This is unlikely to build a high level of trust and foster relationships amongst the team members.

The orb-shaped spider’s web still has the leader at the centre, but there are connections between one another. Relationships are strong and are not dependent on the presence of the leader. Team members trust and are trusted. The vision, mission and values are known and underpin every interaction.

How do you build healthy leadership team by investing in key relationships?

Trust and be trustworthy

Show humility

Keep confidences

Support your colleagues and celebrate their achievements

Look for opportunities to connect and build relationships

Have fun together

Be real

The spider web is more fragile than a bicycle wheel. It takes a lot more care to keep it together, and that’s a good thing.

4 thoughts on “Making Change Stick: Bicycle Wheels and Spider Webs

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