Over the last number of months, I have been working with a leadership team on a large infrastructure project. A significant number of organisations have come together to deliver a major undertaking where collaboration, decision making and leadership are all critical to achieving the client and project objectives. It is a bold project that requires a bold leadership team.
The challenge in developing the leadership team to be high performing has been enormous. Frequent occurences included decision making by committee and avoiding decisions and initiatives that would have provided sufficient direction to the project team. Even frustration, autocratic decision making and no consultation would have been a better alternative to what was occurring.
The problem centred around the size of the team. Too big, too polite and a fear of offending. This is a common theme in my experience when a leadership team is larger than 6-7 people. It is no longer a leadership team but a committee where consensus is more important than direction; where everyone is having input rather than being a functioning team with clear priorities, direction and focus.
We reduced the size of the team and the leadership has followed. The project team have noticed it, appreciated the direction and is delivering results.
Leadership teams are about making decisions and providing direction. Don’t swell it with numbers so that this becomes impossible. Size does matter. It is not about more numbers because you don’t want to offend people but whether it works. I would rather smaller but functioning rather than large and limp every day of the week. What would your organisation and staff prefer?