You’ll often find CEOs of companies walking around the office, mingling with employees and engaging in small talk. The general idea behind these short encounters is to extract insights on who the talent in the company is and get to know the teams that form the corporate culture. Also, they pass on values and share their vision. It’s a great way to learn about the people in the organization and aligning them to the company goals. Usually, when the CEO does this, most senior managers and top executives are appreciative and welcoming to the notion that the CEO has interacted with and recognized their teams. In fact, the senior team invites opportunities for the CEO to recognize the talent in their teams so that they can earn a feather on their caps. However, it’s not entirely the same when your peer, an equal senior management team member, coaches or mentors your team.
Here’s the dilemma – coming from the CEO praise or criticism about your team member will generally be acceptable. However, the same isn’t so when the praise or criticism comes from a peer. Well, praise may be acceptable, though criticism is quickly treated with bitterness.
Your Team Matters To You
Your team is important to you. You chose each and everyone one in your team. You guide them daily, you coach them and mentor them. The company vision cascades down to them through you and it’s through you they develop and forward their careers. It’s you who picks them up when they’re down, motivates them and drives them to be the best version of themselves. Your team matters to you. And they should.
Hence, it’s all the more important that their nurturing, correcting, and development resides with you. It’s your responsibility and you take ownership of your team. And of course, you take pride in your team and each member in it. The last thing you want is someone to shake that pride and tell you (even if indirectly) that your team isn’t as great as you make them out to be. That you’ll take offense of.
As much as you’d like to protect your team from external noise and chatter that can demotivate them, you can’t avoid it. At some point one or the other of your peers will find some shortcomings in your team members. And they’ll pick on it. So what do you do? Retaliate? Justify your team’s weaknesses? Stand up for them and say you’ll sort it out?
Being The Critique
As painful it is to be on the receiving end, it’s equally not easy to be the senior management team member who spots the areas of concern in someone else’s team. What do you do? Stay silent and let things be? Do you take it up with your peer knowing that there may be retaliation or maybe some resentment? It’s not easy confronting your peer about their team member. And you wouldn’t be able to confront the individual as well as that would be taken the wrong way. No, you don’t want to step on your peer’s toes. After all that individual isn’t part of your team and hence isn’t your responsibility to correct, groom and mentor.
So you’ll most likely avoid confrontation and let things just be.
The Issue for the Company
So you’re stuck with a dilemma. You can’t confront the individual and coach them on how to be better. That’ll just upset your peer. And by staying silent you’re accepting people in the company you work for who just aren’t living up to their full potential.
In the end, the outcome is that the company suffers. There’s talent can’t possibly identify their shortcomings on their own. And if their direct manager hasn’t pointed it out to them, there’s a good chance they don’t see it as a problem. However, you’ve spotted it. And you know that continuing down this path will be detrimental for that function and hence the company. So something has to be done.
The Way Forward
Being critical of someone else’s team member isn’t the solution. Sure you can point out all the mistakes, flaws and inadequacies, however, what will all that achieve if it’s not backed by some positive guidance.
As an exponential leader you know that the only way to truly have a company that’s aligned to a purpose and vision is if everyone (and I mean everyone) is contributing towards its success. That means everyone needs to play a role in developing the talent. Everyone should be on the lookout for talent and grooming, mentoring and coaching that talent. Everyone should be contributing, big or small, to ensuring that the talent is able to tap into their full potential.
And all this begins from the very top. It’s not about egos and stepping on someone’s toes. It’s not about criticizing someone else’s team member. It’s not even about having a “better team” than your peers.
It’s about the company. It’s about every function, department, individual and business leader coming together for a greater and common purpose. Its starts from the very top, the CEO, who coaches and mentors the team. Next, it’s up to each and every senior management team member to groom, guide, mentor and coach individuals in the company. Not just their own teams, however, any individual they interact with. And everyone in the senior management needs to buy into this mindset. It’s perfectly fine to guide and mentor each other’s team members. It’s in fact, the right thing to do because that’s how exponential organizations function. This is how exponential leaders operate. And this is how true teams grow together.