Your Company’s A Team: Who Should You Choose to Lead?

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Whether it’s in the boardroom or in the creative suite, the team that leads your business must be handpicked with care. Below CEO of MVF, Michael Teixeira talks to CEO Today about the necessary considerations, the hiring process and succession planning.

Building A Leadership Team

A strong and capable leadership team is essential for any business to be successful. The leadership team is of course responsible for how well the business is going to be able to achieve its strategic goals while also performing well in the immediate term, and it has a big role to play in securing investment.

These are the faces who will represent the company to the public, and the people who are held responsible for a business’s actions. Ultimately, a well-rounded leadership team should reflect and role-model the culture of the business it represents. This will ensure the leadership works for everyone in the business and all its stakeholders.

Designing Your Leadership

To me, a good leadership team is one with a diverse set of skills and backgrounds, who each bring different things to the table. They work collaboratively, both supporting and challenging each other, and each member should feel the responsibility of representing the wider business and their interests, as well as those of its stakeholders.

Building the team means stepping back and reviewing your current organisational chart to look for gaps. Consider things like: Does the leadership team lack any crucial skills or experience? Is there enough diversity of opinion to avoid ‘groupthink’? Are fast-growing or under-pressure areas of the business well represented by the leadership? Most important of all: Is there capacity within the leadership team to take full advantage of your biggest business opportunities? Once you understand these gaps you can proactively design your leadership team.

When building our leadership team at MVF, we reviewed our organisational chart to identify any gaps, assessed the opportunities and challenges in front of us as we strive to maintain our growth rate of around 30%, and looked towards what skills we would need to achieve our goal of becoming a tech unicorn – a company with a multi-billion dollar valuation.

We formed our team with several internal promotions, but also went outside the business to find really impressive people who could give us skills that we didn’t have inside.

Hiring for Leadership Roles

When you are interviewing external candidates for a leadership role, protecting your culture should be the highest priority. You can’t rely on an interview to assess whether a person is going to be a cultural fit. Have them meet people from different areas and levels of the business. Put them in a mixture of formal and informal scenarios, everything from a casual dinner to a formal presentation.

Interviewing external senior candidates prospectively is never time wasted – it allows you to learn about what other organisations are doing and ensures you are keeping up with the industry around you.

Even with a strong internal candidate, doing some research and benchmarking in the market can help identify any areas for development as they progress.

Ultimately, you need to assess whether the business will benefit more from filling the particular role with someone with strong business knowledge and existing relationships with teams, or from new skills and an outsider’s perspective. Is there a team member ready to lead their division, or would that division flourish under a new manager and mentor?

Succession Planning & Development

The leadership team should flex with the demands of the business – the skills required to achieve targets one year will likely be different the next, so making sure you are constantly looking for gaps in expertise to match your business plan is essential.

Be proactive about reviewing and evolving the team. Recruiting externally or even promoting internally takes time, even with a succession plan in place. A business’s ability to grow is hampered by any lack of bandwidth in management, so it’s important to identify these gaps and give yourself time to fill them.

Finally, make sure your team is developing its own skills and continually learning – reading widely, being active in groups or societies and networking with industry peers. At MVF we’ve recently launched an internal bespoke Management Development Academy specifically for our Directors, to provide a forum for continued learning of the latest management techniques.

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