Senior Leadership Teams: : What it takes to make them great. (Book Review)

I was asked to review this book by the Health Service Journal and my review was published last month.

As a leader, have you ever considered whether you really need a leadership team? This question is often ignored or the leader assumes that they’ve answered it, until they realise that their leadership team has become dysfunctional. 

This book commences by asking this question, followed by five further questions about the purpose and membership of a top-team and how this has an impact on the organisation’s performance.   The answers to these questions can provide valuable insight into a team’s understanding of how well they are working together. 

The authors provide a template which, in their view, is the foundation of a successful team.  In order to establish a high-performing team, six necessary conditions are required:  three essential (real team, right players and compelling direction) and three enabling (solid structure, supportive environment, team coaching).  The authors suggest that all six conditions do not have to be in place when a team is formed, but evidence of the team’s potential to obtain them is a pre-requisite. 

The last section of the book offers four key competencies which the authors believe are essential for a top team to possess. The book also describes four different types of leadership teams (information, consultative, co-ordinating, or decision-making) and how they should be deployed in an organisation.  The authors provide numerous case studies, although the majority are American and only two relate to healthcare.

I would recommend this book to newly-appointed Chief Executives and their top teams.  Organisational Development professionals will find the book useful when developing staff engagement or communication strategies within an organisation. 

This book is realistic:  it recognises that the journey from a collection of senior managers to a high performing top-team can be hard and painful, but ultimately rewarding.  There is nothing new in this book, but it stops and makes you think.

Overall rating: 4.5 stars


Authors:  Wageman, Ruth, Nunes, Debra, A., Burruss, James, A., Hackman, J. Richard

Publisher:  Harvard Business School Press

 You can purchase this book from Amazon


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