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  • Writer's pictureLeeanne Carson-Hughes

The Savvy Leader #6 - The Enterprise Leadership Equation

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

Last month I spoke with seven Chief Executives to better understand what they value in their senior leaders.

One thing many of them said is the ability for their senior leaders to be enterprise leaders and strategic thinkers and to not just focus on their own priorities. Or even worse, say yes in the meeting room, and then head out and do their own thing.

In 2023/24, this won’t win the game.

We are missing a golden opportunity to improve organisational performance because many of our Executive and Senior leadership teams are not acting in a cohesive and fully optimised manner and many are not leading at an enterprise view level.

Value is being left on the table and to be frank some senior leaders are left with tarnished professional reputations.

This does not mean they are not working hard or are extremely competent in their profession, just that their individual agenda continues to outweigh the enterprise level agenda.

Senior leadership is a highly visible game and people watch you.

Under developed performance at a top team level is totally observable throughout the organisation. It is like bad wifi, the signal ripples throughout the organisation.

When an executive or senior leadership team does not act as a cohesive team but instead operates as a collection of individuals with their own agendas and priorities, several issues can arise.

We see a lack of alignment, inefficient decision making, mixed messaging, silos in operation, reduced accountability, avoidance of important conversations and a slow adaption to change.

And importantly we create a much more difficult environment for our people to operate in.

Improving enterprise leadership

Typically we see the response to the above involves planning days, restructures (lets move who reports to who and see if we can get better alignment) and changes made to incentive / rem packages. We bring in consultants to do reviews and focus groups, we try to fix process problems and we redesign the job descriptions of the roles lower in the organisation.

Sound familiar? This is all good work .....

But what if the answer to optimised organisational performance lay squarely at the feet of a cohesive executive team?

The reality is that the Executive and senior leadership teams should be able to deliver direction, messaging, empowerment and progress that helps the rest of the organisation.

It is the value of a team approach to enterprise leadership that will give you a better chance of achieving your organisational vision, purpose and mission.

But creating cohesive leadership teams rarely happens organically or in a timely fashion.

So, I went exploring to see what would be a useable model for most businesses to adopt to maximise their enterprise leadership potential and create a competitive advantage.

My findings for the "Enterprise Leadership Equation"

There were a range of tools and techniques but one I found that is likely to be useful to a range of organisations was The First Team Mindset or Number One team approach by Patrick Lencioni.

This means that the executive team would prioritise their collective success over individual or departmental interests. In essence, they become the organisation's most critical team, with their collaborative efforts directly impacting the company's overall performance.

Patrick suggests that a high performing First Team will achieve:

  1. Enhanced Decision-Making: When an executive team functions as a First Team their collective wisdom, diverse perspectives, and shared commitment to the organisation's mission allow for better-informed choices and decision making.

  2. Improved Communication: A First Team mindset encourages open and honest communication among team members. This transparency fosters trust, which is essential for building strong working relationships.

  3. Increased Accountability: Members of a First Team are accountable to each other, which ensures that everyone is aligned with the organisation's goals and vision. This shared accountability promotes a sense of responsibility and ownership.

  4. Faster Problem-Solving: With a First Team approach, executive teams can tackle challenges head-on. Instead of siloed problem-solving, they can collectively address issues, leveraging their combined expertise and resources.

  5. Greater Employee Engagement: A strong First Team sets the tone for the entire organisation. When employees see their leaders working cohesively, it inspires them to collaborate and work towards common goals, ultimately boosting morale and engagement.

How to create a First Team

Step 1: EXPLORE - Explore the First team concept to see if it is right for your organisation. There is a short 3 minute You Tube video you can watch for a quick overview or read Patrick’s books or book summaries: The five dysfunctions of a team and The Advantage.

Step 2: CONSIDER - If you are the CE or Executive leader, consider if your leadership team is at optimal enterprise performance or if there is value to be had by further developing a cohesive First Team.

Step 3: DISCUSS: Get it on the agenda. Have an open and honest team discussion. Either you lead it or get in a skilled facilitator who can hold the space for these conversations.

Step 4: ASSESS: if the team are committed, next do an exploratory assessment of your current “First Team” state. This is best done independently and may utilise interviews and team-based assessments.

Step 5: DESIGN & IMPLEMENT: Design and implement a future state development plan based on this assessment and get on with leading your organisation!

In conclusion, adopting a First Team mindset at the executive and senior team level offers numerous commercial advantages that positively impact an organization's performance, resilience, and competitiveness.

By prioritising teamwork, communication and alignment, executives can drive their organisations to achieve greater success in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

It is a no brainer.

There is a better way to lead.


If you want to know more about how I can assist you with your Enterprise Leadership equation let me know. I couldn’t resist building a solution.

Check out for more information or book a discovery call

Follow me on linkedIn for regular tips and inspiration on how to gain expertise to build a success career and better organisations.

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1 Comment

Unknown member
Sep 29, 2023

So true Leeanne! I’ve seen this shift happen more quickly when the leadership team have one cohesive business or strategic plan that anchors the alignment. But getting to that “one” plan needs some level of common direction - the proverbial chicken and egg!

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