Is It Time to Change Executive Leadership?

Cowen Partners

Contributed By Cowen Partners Executive Search
Build a high performing executive team with Cowen Partners

Your C-suite executives are an integral part of your business’s day-to-day functioning — and maybe even its identity. Once you’ve found your C-suite, you might start to view these leaders as permanent fixtures in your company. 

While this mindset is understandable, it puts your company at risk of stagnation. Here’s a look at why, when, and how to re-evaluate your company leadership.

Why Do You Need to Re-Evaluate Your Company Leadership?

It’s natural to not want to part with employees. However, as your company evolves, it may become clear that the executives who helped get the business to where it is today might not be able to get it to the next level. Retaining executives who are no longer a good fit can stop your company from reaching its full potential.

However, keeping certain employees on longer than you should does more than just stymie your company — it can be actually harmful. 

Imagine having a C-suite executive who is detached and apathetic. Their team members may quit because they find the leader frustrating to work with. And if the executive’s attitude is noticeable enough, you might even lose customers.

If you pay attention to your leaders’ performance and engagement, you’ll be able to avert disasters like this one before they happen. Be aware of some of the telltale signs that you need to take a closer look at an executive.

Signs That It’s Time to Re-Evaluate a Company Leader

Look out for these signs that an executive is no longer serving the interests of your company:

They’ve Lost Their Passion and Enthusiasm

An executive’s attitude is contagious. If you have a highly invested leader who fosters a spirit of growth, their direct reports will likely share in their passion. However, if an executive is apathetic, their team might be less inclined to feel invested in the company’s success.

There’s Too Much Conflict in Their Teams

A strong leader knows how to minimize interpersonal conflict and guide a group of people toward a common goal. However, if there’s an increase in disagreements on a given leader’s team, it might be because the leader’s communication skills are less than effective. 

Of course, there can be other reasons for team disagreements or drama, too. Make sure to look into the issue before deciding to replace an executive.

They Lack Follow-Through

Anyone can set promising goals. But if your current leaders aren’t following through on company goals (and especially goals that maximize the company’s ROI), you might ultimately be costing the company money by keeping them on. A more motivated executive might be able to easily achieve company goals and maximize profit.

They Don’t Support or Promote the Company’s Brand Vision

When it comes to setting your business apart from the competition, your brand is essential. If your brand has a strong enough personality, it can draw in new customers and earn the loyalty of existing ones.

However, if an executive is disengaged enough to stop promoting your brand identity, you run the risk of alienating customers and losing profits. 

If your leadership team drifts too far from your brand identity, it can even lead to internal confusion over what your brand stands for.

And if your own employees are confused as to what you stand for, imagine how your customers feel.

How to Ensure You Have the Right Leadership Team

Now you know that it’s a good idea to periodically reassess your company’s leadership.

But how do you do that effectively?

Here are a few strategies to consider.

Have an Honest Conversation

If you want to get an accurate picture of how well-suited someone is to your organization, you need to know what questions to ask. Try asking your current C-suite executives questions like these:

  • What are you doing to build your leadership skills?
  • How do you measure your team’s performance?
  • How do you measure your own performance?
  • How do you ensure transparent communication between yourself, your team, and shareholders?
  • How have you given the company a return on investment?
  • Are you currently in the right role?
  • How have you built company values into long-term strategy?
  • How do you shape company culture?

Asking these questions can give you valuable information about each executive. You’ll be able to tell how invested each one is in their position, and you’ll also be able to see whether they’re leading the company in the right direction.

Gather Information on How They Manage Their Team

You probably already talk to executives about their team members’ performance. But do you ever ask team members about their executives? When you take the time to gather feedback from an executive’s team, you’ll get valuable insight into their leadership strategy. 

When investigating an executive’s leadership strategy, don’t stop at interviewing team members. When you observe a leader at work, you’ll be able to see if their leadership style is in line with company values.

Look Closely at Performance Metrics

When evaluating an executive, make sure hard data is part of the equation. You likely already have a set of KPIs you use to measure performance. Use these to conduct regular performance reviews with all of your executives. You’ll be able to identify trends in a leader’s performance. 

If an executive’s performance starts to slip, watching how they respond can give you an idea of how committed they are to the role and to your company.

Does Your Company Need New Leadership?

Once an executive has been with your company long enough, it’s easy for them to become complacent. If a particular leader has helped grow your company, you might even feel like you owe it to them to keep them on.

However, businesses — just like people — evolve over time. If an executive is no longer a great fit for your company, replacing them can be a win-win situation. You’ll get an executive who is aligned with your company’s current mission, and your former executive will be set free to discover a new role that better suits them.

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