Teamwork at the Executive Level

Every company I have ever worked with had a corporate hierarchy of managers with titles listing specific areas of responsibility. However, in spite of these titles and the CEO referring to them as the management team, a number of them had no clue as to how to function as an Executive Management Team. (EMT) Consequently, although it may seem semantically insignificant, the first thing I recommend is to rename the team the EMT. The next step is to define everyone’s role and level of authority including the CEO. This alone often can uncover micro management and various levels in the organisation.

The action of every member of the EMT affects the action of others including their peers and their subordinates. What one EMT member may fail at can lead to the failure of another. If that builds on itself it can then morph into a culture of failure. If your timing is off it can throw the timing of the entire team off. Sometimes you must reach out and help one another to insure you maintain focus and stay on the path to success. The best way to maximize the chance for success of the EMT is to back each other up. That means you need a foundation of trust and respect for one another. If trust and respect does not exist -teamwork will not exist universally. Keep the following concepts ever present in the EMT charter of integrity.

Think teamwork at all times

Understand each other’s roles and contribution

Encourage challenge and questioning amongst the group

Create an attitude of support

Eliminate Me and encourage We

Create a climate of Trust & Respect

No Team is Perfect – Look in the Mirror

Understand that perfection is almost never realized in anything you do. No CEO or leaders can create a high level of performance if they surround themselves with weak players. However, having an executive management team that is weak is an indication that the CEO is weak. After all, the CEO selects the team they surround themselves with. I often tell CEOs that even if you are average, if you surround yourself with above average people, they will make you an above average CEO. O the other hand, if you surround yourself with losers, even if you are above average, they will make you a loser.

A leader must demonstrate the need for maximizing performance to the team. This is communicated more by action than words. Tolerance for the lack of excellence or subpar performance sends a distinct message; the wrong message. A cohesive management team is probably the most critical element required to maximize success and meet objectives.

The key to being a Real Leader is the ability to influence the influencers. You have to touch people in such a way that they can reach out and touch other people. Leadership isn’t something you learn from a book or a college course. It is developed over time. Inspiring greatness in others is a phrase often used to define leadership responsibility.

Dave Thomas founder of Wendy’s Restaurants, describes teamwork succinctly:

“Teamwork is the starting point for treating people right. Most people think that teamwork is only important when competing against other teams. But competition is only part of the picture. In most things we do in life, people have to work with rather than against each other to get something done. Win-win situations and partnerships are the most important results of teamwork. The best teams in the world are the ones that help people become better and achieve more than they ever thought they could on their own.”
 Dr. Rick Johnson ( is the founder of CEO Strategist LLC. an experienced based firm specializing in leadership and the creation of competitive advantage in wholesale distribution. CEO Strategist LLC. works in an advisory capacity with distributor executives in board representation, executive coaching, team coaching and education and training to make the changes necessary to create or maintain competitive advantage. You can contact them by calling 352-750-0868, or visit for more information. CEO Strategist – experts in Strategic Leadership in Wholesale Distribution. E-mail

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