Leaders coaching leaders: an exercise to accelerate high performance teams

I’m sharing this simple stepping-stone exercise that can help a good leadership team accelerate communication and transform into a high performance team. 

A client of mine has an effective, functioning leadership team. They’re strong and aligned but are struggling to step it up a notch into a high performance team culture. The leadership team had previously done some psychological profiling. Whilst helpful, it didn’t identify much that individuals didn’t already know. The results uncovered a mix of extroverts, introverts and individuals with varying degrees of skills and empathy. A wonderfully diverse team with lots of different skills is great for innovation, but can be problematic if individuals aren’t (or can’t) communicate at the highest level.  

I asked the team if they would be open to an exercise in digging deeper into identifying their own strengths and areas of development (AoDs) and then their perceived views of the strengths and areas of development for others in the leadership team. They agreed. 

The exercise:

  1. In their own time, individuals from the leadership team wrote down where they felt their own areas of strength and AoDs were. They did the same for each member of the leadership team.
  2. I then facilitated a workshop whereby we worked on a big whiteboard, first going round the room and jotting down each person’s view of their own strengths and AoDs. 
  3. Once we had that self-image data, the team (including the founder) bravely and candidly shared their thoughts about each other, and we plotted in the perceived areas of strengths and AoDs as recognised by other members of the team.
  4. Whilst the strengths and areas of development were broadly related, the exercise gave a brilliant opportunity for discussion without hostility or judgement. Implied references of strengths and areas of development that might usually have happen between individuals, about individuals dropped away, with honest face-to-face conversation acknowledging strengths and accelerating the process of accepting areas of development. 
  5. The final part of the exercise was to embed what the team had learnt about each other by matching individuals with different strengths and AoDs – asking them to help and coach each other in the areas they needed help developing. 

A simple exercise with potentially transformative results for your leadership teams. 

Note: If you decide to give the above a go, it’s a good idea to get someone in to facilitate. Guiding the session and getting the team to answer ‘I wonder’ questioning can help open up conversation and guide the workshop for maximum impact. 

I’m always happy to chat if you want to know more. 



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