Across industries, leadership plays an essential role in the success of a business. These leaders set the tone of the organization as a whole, impacting not only operations and decision making, but employees and customers as well.
To build the right leadership team, companies have to be willing to take their time with the process as every misstep could potentially negatively impact the business long term. Below, 14 Newsweek Expert Forum members explore common mistakes organizations make when assembling a leadership team and share advice on how those errors can be corrected.
1. Not Creating a Collaborative Environment
The right leadership team makes or breaks an organization. When assembling a leadership team, avoid creating a competitive environment. Instead, select leaders with complementary skill sets to cover blindspots in your organization. This approach nurtures collaboration to reach common goals. Having more than one of the same type of leader is one too many. Diverse skill sets strengthen leadership teams. – Lillian Gregory, The 4D Unicorn
2. Not Hiring Diverse Candidates
When assembling a leadership team, don’t solely focus on filling positions with individuals who have similar backgrounds, perspectives and experiences. This homogeneity can lead to groupthink, limiting creativity and innovation. Instead, organizations should strive for diversity in their leadership team, including diversity in skills, experiences and perspectives. – Joseph DeWoody, Valor
3. Not Doing Due Diligence
Don’t ever trust someone’s word that they have the qualifications needed for a job. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way from hiring people based on a nice resume. Check their references, job history and background. And last but certainly not least, conduct trials to test qualifications by putting candidates on temporary employment until they prove their skills. – Tammy Sons, Tn Nursery
4. Not Determining How a Candidate Responds to Challenges
One mistake when setting up a leadership team is not finding out the answers to the following questions: Can you tell me about a conflict or problem during your last position? What was your contribution to causing the conflict or problem? Determine how candidates will help to resolve a problem or conflict going forward. Problems and conflicts are inevitable, so how leaders deal with them can make or break a company. – Mark Goulston, Mark Goulston, M.D., Inc.
5. Not Selecting People Who Will Speak Up
Don’t fill your leadership team with people who are afraid to speak up. Organizations need a leadership team composed of people committed to the best outcomes for the organization. The team should be filled with critical thinkers who question ideas, current practices and opportunities. – Diane Helbig, Helbig Enterprises
6. Not Thinking Long Term
One error I’ve seen leaders make in my executive coaching practice is that they build a leadership team that is only good at executing current strategy. While this feature is key to short-term success, you must assemble a team that can transform your company. Find leaders who can envision it in five to 10 years. Vet people who can spot trends and mobilize resources, structures and processes to get there. – Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC
7. Not Engaging People Outside of Your Usual Network
When engaging in a search for leadership team members, don’t just rely on how you feel about people who are mainly agreeable to you. By engaging with circles outside your usual network not only does this help building in valuable diversity, but it may also help unlock new ideas for the company. – André Blackman, Onboard Health
8. Not Looking Beyond Skills and Experiences
When assembling a leadership team, don’t just consider individual skills and experiences. Ensure team members have diverse ways of thinking and can collaborate effectively. Build a team that values different perspectives and is open to new ideas. Encourage active listening to foster innovation and success. This approach leads to a more successful organization. – Sylvia Crawford, Arize
9. Not Seeking Cultural Alignment
Don’t seek perfection over cultural alignment. Ask fewer skill-based questions and focus on character. Assuming that attractive candidates for positions at the highest level of the organization are professionally competent leaves room to explore their values, and values are the foundation of effective organizational culture. You can always train or refine skills, but you can’t teach alignment. – Afira DeVries, Monarch School
10. Not Determining a Candidate’s Ability to Navigate Difficult Discussions
Supporting employee well-being and mental health sets an organization up for success. One mistake when assembling a leadership team is not assessing their competency and comfort discussing the topic. Instead, ensure leaders have the tools they need to be supportive, promote resilience and handle difficult conversations so that all employees can thrive and feel engaged. – Tahitia Timmons, Conscious By Us
11. Not Removing Negativity
Don’t allow toxic people to fester. Healthy disagreement is something that will help your business grow and thrive, but toxic negativity will cause lasting damage. You have to remove those people from your team. – Doug Robinson, LGCY Power
12. Not Setting Boundaries
One should never establish hierarchies but setting boundaries from the start is a different thing entirely. With hierarchies, you set up your team for potential miscommunication and power structures. If you set boundaries, you instead limit the number of tasks each leader takes on while still maintaining clear terms for operating daily. – Jacob Mathison, Mathison Projects Inc.
13. Not Focusing on Competence and Expertise
One mistake when assembling a leadership team is prioritizing personal relationships over competence and expertise. While it’s important for a leadership team to have strong relationships and work well together, it’s even more important for each member to have the necessary skills and experience to lead their respective departments or functions effectively. – Bala Sathyanarayanan, GREIF Inc
14. Not Prioritizing Merit Over Connections
Promoting without merit because of connections is one way to destroy your company culture. While it is important that the owners and the management get along, and that will sometimes mean family, it should not be the only consideration for putting someone in a leadership role. This is especially true if that person is unqualified for the job. – Zain Jaffer, Zain Ventures