Learning to work together is something we gain experience in as we go, but what do you do if you don’t have anyone to turn to for advice because you are the leaders in an organization? Executive level unity is something that many organizations strive for because it allows the executives to work as a unified force to make decisions, uphold company values, achieve efficiency, and set examples for their employees.
Becoming a unified force isn’t something that can be done overnight, though. Read on to learn how you could promote executive level unity for your team.
1. Get to Know Each Other
This may seem like a simple task, but how well do you actually know your coworkers? Spending time getting to know each other can allow each of you to learn more about how the other works and prefers to interact within the workplace. Additionally, learning personal information about each other can be enlightening and bridge that gap between being professional and personal.
“I was surprised how much I didn’t know about the other executives I was working with,” says Jared Hines, Head of Operations for Acre Gold. “We have all been taught to maintain such a stiff level of professionalism over the years that it causes us to forget that we each have so much more in our lives than the job. A dinner outside of the office where we simply ate and discussed personal hobbies and family allowed us to learn more about each other than we ever did over a formal meeting.”
“Becoming aware of the lives the other executives led outside of the office led me to understand a bit more about them,” says Vino Jeyapalan, CEO and Founder of Kabo. “It’s easy to forget that everyone you work with has a story when you only see the tip of the iceberg each day at work. As executives, it can be tempting to stick to your sphere of influence and only interact with the other executives during meetings or on projects where your areas might overlap. I have learned that it’s much more beneficial to understand more about each person than that to make interactions more natural and to avoid potential conflicts.”
2. Evaluate Leadership Styles
“There can be several executives within a brand that all lead in different ways,” says Jae Pak, Founder of Jae Pak MD Medical. “That’s perfectly okay as long as everyone understands how and why the other executives might lead differently. I’ve seen this cause conflict on more than one occasion where another executive steps on someone’s toes because they don’t understand that person’s leadership style.”
This is something many brands strive to avoid from executive to entry-level. Conflicts can uproot progress and cause productivity to halt if not dealt with appropriately. Preventing the occurrence is the best approach, so it’s critical that executives model the behavior themselves and learn to adapt to each other’s leadership styles.
“Some executives have very hands-off approaches while others like to get their hands dirty and stay involved with the process,” says Alvin Oommen, Founder and CEO of OXFORDhill. “Neither of these approaches are wrong, but if these executives don’t understand each other’s methods and have to work together – which they likely will – then they are likely to be left feeling like the other doesn’t value their leadership efforts which is detrimental to the unity of the executives.”
3. Create an Action Plan
Even executives need rules to follow. Most of the time – this is something they have to decide on themselves. Creating an action plan makes sure everyone is on the same page and nobody feels left out.
“It’s important to make sure that each executive feels like they have a purpose within the organization,” says James Shalhoub, Co-founder of Finn. “outlining responsibilities and responses to different situations allows for each executive to understand where their responsibilities lie and learn to understand their coworkers’ goals better.”
“Knowing how to respond to another executive in the future can be beneficial,” says Dylan Trussell, Co-Founder of Culprit Underwear. “Knowing each other’s preferred communication styles and leadership methods can help in responding to future problems and promote executive team unity.”
4. Hold Each Other Accountable
Once standards have been established and a plan for executive unity is created, it is important that executives uphold their end of the agreement and also hold each other accountable.
“As executives, we really have to be unified in supporting each other,” says Michael Hennessy Founder and CEO of Diathrive. “If we need to call someone out for not following the guidelines we’ve agreed to follow, we should do it. There has to be accountability at the top or the whole organization will fall apart.”
“Executive unity relies heavily on accountability,” says Matt Rubright, Head of Growth for Candidate. “If we’re constantly looking over our shoulder or feeling like we’re going to get stabbed in the back by another executive, there is a much higher likelihood of someone making decisions that could damage the company or its reputation with their actions. We need to be unified in leading the organization together and understanding how to hold each other accountable without causing conflict is a big part of that.”
5. Re-Evaluate When Needed
As with anything in business, the plan for executive unity might need to be reevaluated from time to time. This could be because of a change in leadership structure, new hires, or simply the realization that the plan that looked good on paper isn’t practical to carry out.
“Part of being unified in leading a company is recognizing when you need to make a change in your own behaviors or actions,” says Ted Toledano, Founder of Modloft. “If a new executive is brought onto the team or someone leaves, the dynamics are going to change. Reevaluating current practices on a regular basis also helps maintain that level of accountability and efficiency that executives are striving for.”
Executives have as much of a need for structure and planning as any other level of employment – but the big difference lies in the fact that they are responsible for holding themselves to the standards they set. By following some of the tips shared above, hopefully, your executive team can join others in becoming a unified force that will elevate your organization to it’s highest potential.