When asked what makes a successful executive team, the first thing that may come to mind is that the team must be comprised of like-minded individuals. 

Contrary to popular belief, having a team of people who think alike does not move an organization forward. In fact, a more important quality of a prosperous executive team is a experienced set of people with cross-functional skills, varying backgrounds, and a diverse set of strengths and weaknesses. 

Leverage team member differences

A reasonable degree of friction and disagreement is incredibly beneficial in planning and decision making. If every member espoused the same ideas, the team is at risk of complacency and stagnation. 

Instead, a team whose members approach innovation and challenges differently using experiences from their varied backgrounds and education ensures that a wide range of approaches will be considered. 

In fact, never push an executive team to fall in line. Instead, use their differences to drive progress and innovation. 

Seek dynamic personalities 

Equally important to experience and time-tested success are people who have the ability to work independently. Fostering growth is vital for any workplace and delegating responsibilities is necessary to get the work done. While being accountable to the company as a whole and communicating successes and challenges is critical, members of an executive team should be encouraged to explore new ideas and innovate on their own, sharing concepts and initial beta testing before moving forward on projects that would affect the bottom line. 

In other words, collaboration is essential, but team members should also be able to grow and foster ideas without relying on their peers. 

Avoid groupthink

Groupthink can be a toxic result of an executive team that is too similarly opinioned. Remember, the driving forces of the team should be progress and innovation. 

Harmony for harmony’s sake poisons decision making. To avoid the possibility of groupthink, the executive team should be empowered to voice their opinions and opposing thought for the good of the organization.

Foster a safe space  

No amount of personality traits, experience or education can override the importance of creating and fostering a safe, productive workplace. The executive team should examine what and how the organization can improve and produce results without facing reprimand or being made to doubt their value. 

To foster this safe place requires a track record of hearing opposing viewpoints and potentially even executing on a few to demonstrate trust and faith. Once this becomes an established means of practice at the executive level, it should be filtered down throughout the organization building trust at every level. This not only furthers innovation and success, it builds a strong community of teamwork and members who work together toward a common goal.