The 3 Dysfunctions of Excom Meetings!
Updated: Sep 5, 2022
"There should be more focus on the product or service itself, less time on board meetings, less time on financials."
The other day, while reading this quote from Elon Musk, I was reminded of the remarks I hear from quite a few Excoms. But why is this the case? I found three main reasons that can explain 80% of the dysfunctional situations in Excom meetings.
1 - Lack of elevation: some Excom's spend a lot of time on operational details. While it is true that the devil is in the details, too often this poorly invested time comes at the expense of more strategic and transformational discussions. Sometimes the Excom confuses follow-through with involvement. Other times, due to a lack of team purpose, meetings are limited to a simple review of numbers, without much added value.
2- Lack of team focus: it is not uncommon for an Excom to function as a sum of functional leaders. "I want to be the ambassador of my function within the Excom", a VP told me the other day. But what about being the ambassador for your company within your function. Leadership teams don't always have a vision and roadmap for their team, other than their company's strategy. This is a mistake. So everyone talks about their function and then goes back to their real life.
3 - Lack of trust: when there is a basic lack of trust between Excom members, everyone stays on guard and meetings become a game of hide and seek and an exercise in defending one's own turf. The reaction of the CEO or President, his or her leadership style can also exacerbate or even provoke this atmosphere. Psychological safety is lacking, and this leads to a major dysfunction of the Excoms, which is often the cause of the two reasons mentioned above.
The effectiveness of an Excom's work depends as much on the quality of its members as on their ability to create a clear team purpose.