Posted By Jack McGuiness on 04/15/2020

The Four Primary Components Of A Leadership Team System

The Four Primary Components Of A Leadership Team System

As published in Chief Executive Magazine on September 11, 2019

“Leadership teams can optimize their effectiveness only when they are able to take a systems view and fully recognize the interactions...” 

Components of a Leadership Team System

In our view there are four primary components of a leadership team system – (1) structure; (2) relational dynamics; (3) formal team leadership; and (4) the environment in which the team operates. While challenging, leadership teams can optimize their effectiveness only when they are able to take a ‘systems view’ of the team and fully recognize the interactions of these components. 

Structure: We define structure as the arrangement and organization of the tangible elements of a leadership team – collective purpose, role integration, and communication. New heights can be reached when a leadership team agrees and commits to a common purpose ‘for this team at this particular juncture’ and gains clarity on how the team will integrate to achieve the purpose. Communication (i.e., meeting management and processes) can serve as glue to ensure that a team executes efficiently.

How a leadership team is structured can have a profound impact on the system. For example, the leadership team of a young, fast-growing organization where everyone has been used to ‘rolling up their sleeves’ may be challenged by the introduction of new processes or meeting regimen. The team may feel like they are losing autonomy which could chip away at trust in the formal leader or those who embrace the new structure.

Relational Dynamics: A leadership team’s relational dynamics include elements (trust – productive dialogue – accountability) that help foster a productive and healthy work environment. Trust is the foundational element for building a great leadership team as it enables teams to challenge and debate productively and hold each other accountable.

As illustrated in the example above, a leadership team’s relational dynamics are impacted by how a team is structured (e.g., too much structure too fast can stifle autonomy and lead to relational strife). The opposite is also true; strong relational dynamics can foster the patience required for new structure to be implemented (e.g., team members trust the intentions of the leader and as a result are better able to adapt to a changing environment). 


Formal Team Leadership: The role of the formal team leader (CEO, President, GM) is to establish the conditions that help a leadership team thrive in the environment in which it is working. All team leaders come with their own skills, styles, experience and biases but the best are able to adapt and position their team’s for success in the current environment. For example, a leader who has a strong preference for measurement (and who has had prior success with this preference) but recognizes that a previous toxic environment has led to diminished trust in the metrics and among team members will adapt and deploy a more learning-oriented approach.

“…changes to one part of the system will naturally impact other parts of the system in sometimes unintended or undesirable ways.” 

To Read the Characteristics of a Great Leadership Team System visit https://chiefexecutive.net/a-systems-view-of-leadership-team-effectiveness/