Web WorkshopI recently spent time with a group of executives working through a visioning session to set the context and goals for a renovation of one of their primary corporate buildings.  The session was fantastic, tailored to guide them in identifying drivers and goals for their space.  The session itself, however, isn’t the important thing here.  This is: I walked away thinking, “This is the most cohesive group of senior leadership I have ever seen.”

They were amazing.  As they worked through the challenges the current space was posing and how those challenges were affecting the culture, they expressed agreement and resonance with one another’s points.  They prioritized the things they wanted the new space to achieve, and the did it with almost complete consensus.  Now, I don’t hold this up as the ideal just for the sake of itself.  I believe in dissent.  Respectful dissent is healthy within an organization.  But dissent wasn’t missing here because we had a group of “yes men” in the room.  It was missing because they all truly had their finger on the pulse of what was really happening in the organization.  The same challenges were on each of their minds.

So, how did they get that way?  Let’s look at it another way.  Let’s talk about what was missing in that room.  There was absolutely no:

Posturing – Not a single senior leader in the room (and there were nearly a dozen) was worried about how s/he looked to the others.  Total transparency, complete engagement, full disclosure…trust.
Power plays – Everyone had equal footing and they knew it.  I’ve seen organizations in which executives are so concerned about their own parts of the organization that they work to get the ear of the boss at the expense of some of their peers.  None of that in this room.
Silos – These people each had responsibilities of their own.  However, they all understood that their own parts of the organization were parts of a whole, and they could best achieve the goals for themselves by doing it collectively.
Mixed messages – Organizationally, this group has a lot of messages…but none of them are incongruent.  They distilled them down to a few pivotal elements, making a great springboard for the messaging they’ll do around the building renovation.

Spending a day with a group like that was inspiring – it was a great day.  They have vision…and because of the things they don’t have, they’re on their way to a great revitalization of their built environment and their corporate culture.