Creating Your Team Purpose

December 14, 2010 -- Sal Silvester

In  my last blog post, I talked about a client I worked with in Fort Collins, Colorado and how important it is to have clarity about your senior leadership team's purpose.

But let me take a step back.

Prior to understanding your team's purpose, you should reflect on the true function of the team. The research published in the book Senior Leadership Teams identified four major types of senior leadership teams, each serving a distinct function – informational teams, consultative teams, coordinating teams, and decision making teams.

Informational teams exchange information about various aspects of the business and they meet to hear about direction and initiatives from the CEO or the senior leader. The purpose of this type of team is to make individual leaders better informed, better aligned, and more able to do their jobs.

Consultative teams are brought together to help the senior leader through discussion and by providing advice about key decisions, changes in the market, customer considerations, and other aspects of the business. They do not make decisions, but rather provide necessary information and act as a sounding board before the senior leader makes the final call. The overall purpose of a consultative team is to make the CEO or senior leader better informed and better at his or her job.

Coordinating Teams  are comprised of members who come together to coordinate their leadership activities as they execute initiatives.  For example, a senior leadership team at a software company that is launching a new product would require coordination across product development, marketing, sales,  and maybe even retail outlets. The function of coordinating teams is to manage operational interdependencies. Members here are highly interdependent, they have shared responsibilities, and must work together toward a common purpose.

Decision making teams make the small number of critical decisions that are most consequential for the organization as a whole. I consider these the most complex of all the teams and also potentially the most valuable. 

So, as you are building your senior leadership team, prior to creating its purpose, you have to truly understand its function.

What type of team do you have?

What type of team do you need?

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