The 4 Steps to Building an All-Star Leadership Team

You may be the Michael Jordan of your company, but is your team championship ready?

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By Jason Hennessey

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest professional basketball player of all time. In the "90s, he led the Chicago Bulls to six championships.

But, even Michael Jordan needed help. There's no question he was the Bulls' best player, but six championships and that magical 72-10 season came from a team effort. Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoč, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr and Luc Longley were all part of a squad led by Michael Jordan.

It's no secret that the right team can make magic happen, whether it's on the basketball court or in the creative confines of a growing business. However, it's one thing to cobble together a team. It's a completely different story when you assemble a team of like-minded individuals who, when their powers are combined, conjure success.

Here's why your executive leadership team matters, how it can help your business grow and what steps you need to take in order to assemble your own squad:

What is an executive leadership team?

Let's think about growth in simple terms: good and bad. An executive leadership team helps you achieve the former.

Consider this team the oxygen of your company. If that sounds dramatic, just work for a company with no top-level leadership, or worse, top-level leaders who aren't aligned with one another. It doesn't take long to run out of air.

Then there's the executive team that fosters growth at any cost. Maybe profits trend upwards, but so does employee turnover. Team morale doesn't move because there was no morale to begin with. This is bad growth. Nobody wants this.

Exceptional executive leaders guide the vision for your company. They analyze, strategize and optimize. They assess, reassess and implement. They foster, create and motivate. They are a singular force, working with each other and your company's employees. In other words, they make your life easier.

Good growth starts with an all-star executive leadership team.

Related: The New Challenges Facing Executive Leadership, and How to Rise Above Them

Steps for building your own executive leadership team

1. Understand your own strengths

Gallup has a unique assessment called CliftonStrengths. American psychologist Don Clifton developed this test, and in his words "There is no more effective way to empower people than to see each person in terms of his or her strengths."

With this in mind, CliftonStrengths provides you with your top five strengths (based on 34 determined themes.) You can see all 34, but the idea is to focus on your top talents. This idea falls back on what I said earlier: Why spend your most productive hours on things you aren't good at or don't enjoy when you could really be spending this time using your strengths?

So, identify those strengths. Understand them. Capitalize on them.

2. Leverage the strengths of others

Sometimes the word leverage gets an unfairly negative connotation. In the company team-building sense, think of the term leverage like the word utilize. You have your own strengths while other people have theirs. Your job, as your company's captain, is to combine and utilize these strengths so that everybody wins.

Create a team that flourishes because everyone has a role to play and sees their own strengths. Everyone adds value, and that value creates successful growth. When I finally committed to this, everything changed. Growth started feel automated and my personal time freed up, which afforded me the ability to do things that I not only wanted to do, but things within my realm of strengths.

3. Create cohesion

Your job isn't done just because you've assembled a unique team. It takes time to learn how to work together, especially depending on how you're working.

Creating a culture of trust is critical to fostering a cohesive leadership team. My team is quick to celebrate one another's wins. We support one another during challenging times. We communicate ways in which we can improve operations. Building a team also needs to include humor. We work hard, but we also enjoy making one another laugh.

Project management planning and communication tools such Asana and Slack help coordinate all of our tasks. My team also does a "digital huddle" every morning through Zoom. It's an easy way to make sure we're aligned and lets us communicate face-to-face, even if it's through screens. Every other week, we have a team huddle for the entire company, and the leaders take turns educating the team about their departments.

Related article: Build Your Management Team

4. Pass on the energy

This is where your frontloading efforts pay off. You've taken the time to understand your strengths, hire uber-talented people with strengths of their own and build a solid foundation among all of you. Now it's time for them to pass on the energy.

An effective executive leadership team empowers every other employee in the company. Our biweekly team huddles help communicate updates and align our employees. At each meeting, a department leader presents their team's work. As an entirely virtual company, it's important for each of our team members to know what other departments are doing and how they fit into the big picture. During these meetings, we give shout outs to team members' activities that align with our core values. These meetings become high energy sessions that facilitate team cohesion. Cohesion is important because your company's vision, strategy and action all involve your employees at the core.

Great makes greater. Identify and empower your executive leadership team. Put great people together who can inspire each other and those around them, and you'll find greater success for your business.

Related article: Six Leadership Best Practices to Empower Your Workforce

Jason Hennessey

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Entrepreneur & CEO

Jason Hennessey is an entrepreneur, internationally-recognized SEO expert, author, speaker, podcast host and business coach. Since 2001, Jason has been reverse-engineering the Google algorithm as a self-taught student and practitioner of SEO and search marketing.

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