What Does It Take To Build an Effective Leadership Team?

by Pranav Ramesh
December 21, 2021
Creating Excellence: Keys to Constructing a Strong Leader

One of the biggest companies to emerge from the last few years is the video conferencing giant Zoom. When Zoom went public in the summer of 2019, it opened at $65 per share, making it the best performing IPO of the year. In 2021, Zoom’s stock averaged well over $300.

Despite being one in several video conferencing apps, Zoom was able to capture a lion’s share of the market during the lockdowns, becoming virtually synonymous with video calling and work-from-home over the last two years. And they did it despite having a few significant handicaps that their competition didn’t share. Teams, being a Microsoft product had the advantage of much larger revenues. Skype had the very bankable advantage of being an industry leader, established over a decade earlier. Yet neither brand managed to capture the public’s imagination quite as successfully. What was the difference?

In the opinion of experts, a large part of Zoom’s success is its highly-effective and cohesive leadership team. Eric Yuan, Zoom’s Founder/CEO, and Kelly Steckelberg, the CFO, are known to work closely and in tandem. A study conducted on Zoom’s senior leadership found that the team members are a mix of different but complementary personalities. They also set the pace expected from leadership teams further down in the corporate structure. One employee, leaving his review on Zoom’s workplace survey page on Glassdoor, opined.

“I think at the uppermost level the leadership team lead by a great example. There are some challenges with middle management but Eric and team are phenomenal (sic).”

Recent research by global consultancy McKinsey has suggested that executives who work in a high-performing leadership team are five times more productive. The same report also declared that that 90% of investors consider the performance of an organization’s senior management team as the single most important non-financial factor when evaluating its IPO. An organization’s leadership is its most visible representative, after all. And a team of leaders has a distinct advantage over leaders who choose to go it alone. In the words of LinkedIn co-founder, Reid Hoffman,

“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.”

If you want to start melding your senior leaders into an effective and efficient team, then you need to start with some of the basics.

Break down silos

Groups of senior executives do not become teams automatically. In many organizations, though they may be called a leadership “team”, senior executives function relatively independently of each other within their structural silos. As the senior-most executive in their department, they act as a conduit of communication between the department and the chief executive, but this remains a two-way relationship that doesn’t involve their peers.

Such structural silos not only limit teamwork but also place an added burden of intra-departmental cooperation on the chief executive. The first step towards building an effective executive team is to break down these silos and retrain senior management to view themselves as members of a peer-collective.

Develop a shared growth mindset

The next step, after building team consciousness within the senior executives, is to turn their focus towards shared goals. Not shared organizational goals, which as department leaders in the company they would already be working towards, but rather, a shared goal for the team. D