A couple of months ago, I received a copy of "Connecting Top Managers: Developing Executive Teams for Business Results," written by Lisa Haneberg and Jim Taylor. I read it weeks ago but am just getting around to posting this review due to a busy schedule.
"Connecting Top Managers" is a tremendous resource for any organization that wants to build a more effective management team, or would like to address dysfunction or ineffective teamwork at the managerial level. One of the things that makes this book particularly impactful is the research behind the text. Haneberg and Taylor engaged with a variety of organizations through direct observation, project work, surveys, and other means and learned a lot about the ins and outs of executive teams. Those learnings fed the recommendations and techniques presented in this book.
Be and be perceived
One aspect of the book I really liked is that it not only deals with how executives interact with their peers in the management team, it also addresses how the management team can improve or repair its image with the rest of the company. Of course, some of the root causes of poor perceptions of management are a direct result of ineffective relationships within the management team, so it's not surprise both of these are dealt with in the book.
One of the sections in the book, "Dysfunction Reverberates," sums it up nicely: "...leaders [can't] expect their management and employees to be any more committed and passionate about the business than they demonstrate through their own actions. The same goes for teaming. You cannot expect the rest of the organization to work well together if the leadership team itself does not seem to care enough to work well together."
This book contains a lot of practical advice and strategies that you can apply within your own team, as well as some techniques you can apply personally to effect change even if the rest of the exec team is not on board.
Change begins at the top
Another element that is discussed very effectively in the book is how to influence the culture of the organization overall. Much of this comes through willingness to address conflict rather than avoiding it, and setting a tone of constructive engagement and accountability throughout the organization.
Of course, all of this works best when there is consistent "tone at the top," which begins with the executive team. In other words, leading by example is not just a saying - it's a mandate.
Another notion in the book with which I am in enthusiastic agreement: the most effective organizations are open to learning, and encourage learning as a part of how they do business. What better way to make this real than to embrace learning as an executive team and tackle the challenge of becoming a more effective, high-functioning team?
I loved this book. If you want to improve your executive team's effectiveness, I highly recommend Connecting Top Managers as a tremendous resource.