First, the Leadership Team Must
Bust Its Own Silos…

How often have you heard, leaders say “we need to break down the silos”? – and then shortly after the leaders launch collaboration activities with the objective to bust silos. The only common denominator of all the activities being that they impact everybody else in their organizations. Not the leaders themselves…

Source: Innovisor Organizational Network Analysis - Leadership Team with Dense Core

Leadership Teams are the Worst at Collaborating

Leadership teams are consistently the teams that organizations invest the most money in. In leadership off-sites, in personality assessment, in social events, and so forth. They are also the ones that are the furthest from collaborating as ONE. They pull in different directions according to their own preferences, they compete for internal resources rather than thinking about the greater objective, they send mixed signals to the employees rather than stand as ONE.

Source: Innovisor ONA - Collaboration in Leadership Team

Often the leaders simply dislike each other. They just do not say it loud. The result is fragmentation and silos.

Innovisor Insight: No other teams are as bad at collaborating as the leadership team

In our work with organizations, we discover this again and again. In fact, no other teams are as bad at collaborating as the leadership team.

Leadership Teams Must Lead by Example to Bust Silos

If we want to bust silos, we need the leadership teams to quit talking about what their employees are failing at connecting around, and instead start to lead by example by busting their own silos.

…lead by example by busting their own silos

We see repeatedly that leaders point to colleagues in the leadership team that could make them more effective if they could collaborate more with them.

Still, they do not make a connection to their colleague. The basic action of reaching out and ask for help does not happen. Maybe because it is embarrassing to ask for help? – Maybe because it leaves the leader exposed when the leaders fight for the top position in the leadership team.

Only the CEO Can Make it HAPPEN

So, what can be done to fight the silos in the leadership teams? Essentially, the CEO needs to take on the responsibility to make it happen. It cannot be delegated.

Here is a 4-step plan.

  1. Bring in the Facts: Baseline the connectivity in the leadership teams. Who is not connecting to whom? – and who should connect?
  2. Discipline Connectivity: Force those leaders how to fail to connect into those uncomfortable 1:1 conversations and ask them for a plan. If they cannot burry their silo thinking and come up with a credible plan, then find new members for the leadership team
  3. Ensure alignment: If the leadership team is not aligned on the strategic direction, then the employees are never going to follow suit. Make sure the leaders communicate the same direction and priorities
  4. Follow-up: Make the Leadership Team stand out as examples for silo-busting. Track progress on the building of connections and the ability of the leadership to stay aligned. Make it act as ONE

For inspiration see these two cases with 30 and 150 leaders respectively.

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