What to do when your senior team isn’t working out….

Hiring people is one of the most difficult things to do in any business. We hunt down shiny CVs, ask friends and colleagues, go to recruiters… all in the hope that we find a more certain way of hiring a successful team.

One CEO I worked with was looking to replace themselves in the business. So they did the “usual” thing – they scouted around for someone who was well credentialed in their sector…with client contacts, a good history of results on the board, and a charming manner. They found just the person, and felt excited, relieved and confident.

The “perfect”, new CEO lasted half a day.

They spent the entire morning evaluating what was wrong with the company.
And gave the feedback to anyone that would listen that “things will have to get a whole lot more professional around here from now on”.
They wrong-sided half the team.
Caused a storm with a client.
And still thought they were right.

Wow! Good on my client for seeing the writing on the wall so quickly, and making a vitally quick decision.

Most leaders don’t make these decisions nearly quickly enough, for fear of being harsh. Imagine how harsh it would have been for the rest of the team, if they hadn’t decided to make this decision, and kept the person on!

You see this particular hire was a complete mismatch for the organisation.
The criteria for decision-making had been focusing on entirely the wrong requirements. It had been more about image, ego and implementation skills than an environment match.

And so they got exactly what they were looking for (even though they were unaware that this was what they were attracting at the time) – someone who was a Level 3 Leader:

  • Gets results, but not through others
  • Has become un-resourceful because past successes have led them to believe it is totally down to them/their experience/their expertise/their magic – EGO (it NEVER is)
  • The have hierarchical thinking – they believe experience counts for everything
  • They overstate the power of their connections, and think they can take business with them – this is a powerful indicator that they believe THEY are more important than the brand and culture of the organisation they are moving to (guess how they are going to behave in your team?)
  • They believe that if they solely focus on results, the rest will take care of itsel


What you need to scout for in senior leaders are qualities that make up a Level 5 thinker:

  • Gets results, BUT this time it is through others
  • Firm belief in the differentiated culture of your organisation and is prepared to get behind what you have already created
  • Demonstrates innovative thinking around what can be added to the above
  • Is curious and committed beyond measure
  • May be much younger than you think (check your own bias here re hierarchical thinking)
  • Their personal values match those of your organisation
  • They see opportunities for the business everywhere
  • They actively negate drama – and have strategies for how to quell it in the team
  • They NEVER disparage clients
  • They live by their own high standards and are elegant at setting expectations of others

The bad news is, there is no magic bullet if your senior leadership team is more Level 3 than Level 5.
The good news is: there IS a roadmap of how to change this.
Here are 3 things you can do right now:

  1. Discuss your company vision and values with the team – what does it mean to them? Be aware of how they react; what language they use. Make some observations of where they are at based on the description of Level 3 and Level 5 above.
  2. Give each senior leader individual feedback on your observations. Note: make sure you set this up beforehand on why you are doing this.
  3. At the next group session, share your vision of how you would like the team to be…where they think they are now…and what the challenges are. Acknowledge those challenges and set the standards around the group 5 behaviours above.

The intention and the hope is that the team comes with you. Sometimes individuals won’t. And that has to be OK.

Protect your culture at all costs, because if you don’t, sometimes the people you have put your trust in the most and working against you, not with you.

Your responsibility to is KNOW for sure who is on the ship, and who isn’t. And act accordingly.


P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are ways I can help you grow your team and business :

 1. Join the Leadership Mentoring Project and connect with other leaders and business owners who are into growth too

It’s our new Facebook community where smart leaders learn to get more growth, impact, and freedom. —  Click Here

2. Work with me and my team privately

If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to take you through the levels of leadership… just reply here and put “Private” in the subject line… tell me a little about your business and team and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details!


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