How to Build a Leadership Team


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I don’t need a C Suite – my company is too small.  Well, first of all let’s substitute the term C-Suite with Leadership team.  And when you really look at your organization, you may very well find that it’s time to create a Leadership team.

Do you have more than one person taking care of clients, or handling customer care?  How about marketing – are there a couple of people dealing with your content, and funnels and social media and lead generation?  Have you created more than one product or brand, and you have a few people working on each of those.  And what about the day to day systems of the business.  Would it make sense for one person to ride herd on the systems, sop’s and technology that helps you do what you do?

Well, my friend – if any of these things are true, then you most likely have a number of departments in your company.  And to be your most effective self, it’s a good idea to have people running and accountable for those departments.  They’ll have the time to put more brainpower and energy into developing those areas, and you’ll find that it’s amazingly valuable to have senior members in the company to brainstorm with, run things by, and best of all – execute on all those innovative visionary ideas you have.

Yep, I think you’ll find that developing that team – those leaders just under you – will help rocket your company forward.

And no, I’m not talking about a Fortune 500 company’s Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Operations Officer etc.  I’m talking about leaders in their fields that can help your company grow – and they need to know how to operate in a boutique business, and grow it to a Fortune 500 company, if that’s what you want.

The right senior leadership team can give you valuable expertise, leadership and support to help you scale.  But hiring the right talent can be daunting – for anyone, and particularly if it’s your first time.  So here are 6 tips just to get you started.

..sometimes the best candidates come from non-traditional backgrounds.  For example, a great operations chief may have previously been a successful coach.

The first step is to define the role and responsibilities.  What do you need help with, how does your company look now, what departments do you have already.  Once you’ve figured out what the job is and what the responsibilities are, you’ll have a better shot at attracting the right candidates.  People with the right skills and experience for the job.

Next up, you’ll need a good solid job description – that’s a critical part of getting the right candidates.  Make sure it’s detailed and includes information about the company, the culture, values and mission.  It will help people figure out if your company’s culture aligns with their values.

OK, now you need to get into the search process.  Leverage your personal and professional networks to find people. Reach out to your connections and ask for recommendations. You can also use headhunting or staffing firms.  They specialize in finding and recruiting executive-level talent, and they can help you save time and effort in the hiring process.

Oh, and don’t forget to look inside.  You may have a diamond in your midst and you don’t even know it.  Look at your current team members.  Does someone stand out, has someone been showing strong leadership qualities?  Now don’t get me wrong, if you have the opportunity to choose someone from inside, you very well may need to develop them.  But the thing you can’t teach is commitment and loyalty to the company.  So think carefully, and make a reasoned decision – but don’t dismiss current team members out of hand.  Someone may surprise you.

Consider hiring from non traditional backgrounds.  You know when we’re looking for C-suite leaders, we tend to focus on candidates with experience in our industry.  But sometimes the best candidates come from non-traditional backgrounds.  For example, a great operations chief may have previously been a successful coach. Don’t be afraid to consider candidates with unique backgrounds.

And I’ll remind you again – the right candidate needs to be able to operate in a small or mid sized company environment.  They’ll probably wear more hats than that same job in a large, multi national company – so they absolutely need to have a ‘whatever it takes to get it done’ attitude vs. an ‘it’s not my job’ attitude.

So, one of your employees just told you that she’s pregnant.  Feeling overwhelmed, with no idea where to start?  After all, HR just got dumped on your plate.  It’s not your zone of genius, and you don’t want it to be.

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Passion and potential – while experience and qualifications are important, don’t overlook the importance of passion and potential. Look for candidates who are truly passionate about your company’s mission and have the potential to grow and develop into the role. This is especially important for start-ups and small businesses.  Your business is still evolving, the business model is flexible, things aren’t written in stone.

Your leadership team needs to be OK with uncertainty, and be able to stay flexible.

While you’re going through the interview process, consider using simulations or case studies.  It can really help you evaluate the candidate’s problem-solving skills and their ability to think creatively.  You can also get great insight into how they might approach real-world challenges, and whether they’re a good fit for your company.

You can use a real world situation that you recently encountered in your business, or something you read about or heard from a colleague.  And don’t be afraid to drill down into why they’re giving you the answer they’re giving.  Do a deep dive, so you can get a sense of their thought process.

And finally, take your time.  Hiring someone for your leadership team is a critical decision, and it can have a significant impact on your company.  Take the time to thoroughly evaluate the candidates, and consider multiple people before making a final decision.

Have more than one interview meeting, maybe even ask a trusted team member to meet with them as well (believe me, they will quickly get a sense of whether the person fits the culture).  And remember, the leadership team will be your right hand; you’ll lean on them for ideas, support and execution.  You absolutely want the right people in the right seats.  So, it’s better to take a little longer to find the right person than to rush – and make a costly mistake.

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