Leadership That Works

Making A Real Leadership Team

John Caswell
The A-Z Of Group Partners
8 min readOct 20, 2022


Leaders Deliver Outcomes

The agreed business outcome is a clear signal of intention.

Business outcomes result from the whole ‘business system’ — everything in it — people, systems, processes — working together.

It’s a massive challenge. Getting everyone to make the correct choices collectively as they execute their plans is complex. In addition, the market is out of our control — so leaders need to make slight changes to the plan accordingly.

The fundamental for leaders is gaining alignment — a very tricky word.

Alignment takes a series of things to happen in concert. The vision, the culture, the plan and the operational mode must be well-defined, understood and deeply felt by the team.

This requires developing an understanding of what makes a strategy and the capacity to think.

All images courtesy New World Technology Ltd.

The business outcome is a big idea.

The outcome (big idea) informs the plan — it’s typically called strategy. The big mistake, though, is when a business consciously allows the divisions to make its plans. Often despite a valid and adequately defined strategy.

An adequately defined strategy must be built through logic and a formula that addresses how the business will achieve its goals and why.

A business strategy is the result of a set of interrelated choices. This is a significant concept. The business must buy into these choices and know what they mean and why the choice was made.

The idea behind ‘strategy’ is a formula — a theory.

The test is the team knows — we are doing [this] because [this] will happen, and [this] will be the outcome. It expands the leader’s mindset so that they realise why this and not why that.

The Business Equation™

A valid formula makes coherent and practical sense.

The equation is a tool allowing the team to develop the correct conclusion. A way of ensuring the team works through the many possible choices and, as a result, declares the most coherent strategy possible.

Without the time and space to reflect on these choices, there’s far less chance that each part of the business will be able to follow through. Worse, they become a barrier to change.

And even with a rigorous approach to making the smartest choices we can, there will never be a guarantee. We only know whether we’ve made a good or a poor choice with hindsight.

Giving leadership teams space to think and reflect allows them to appreciate the meaning and implications of everything. And that means those in management positions gain the confidence to execute the initiatives and actions that will deliver the strategy. They will be as prepared as possible.

Leaders execute the plans that emerge from strategies.

These plans are a direct consequence of making choices — the priorities that emerge (become clear) when teams realise the Business Equation™.

Leaders have the responsibility and accountability not to solve the wrong problems really well. Given the intense pressures and lack of capacity to spend time looking at the whole system, it’s easy to solve what’s straight in front of a team rather than what needs fixing.

Every business is s system — an interconnected set of systems, processes and people working together to deliver.

The 20 Factors

The Business Equation — To achieve the outcomes and ambitions (1) and vision (2) — these (3) are the chosen critical initiatives that will deliver the strategy*. They will resolve the challenges, remove the barriers (4) and achieve the signs of success (5) as the plan is executed (3). Vision (2) is the story of the new/future business position and allows us to resonate with the market and our key audiences (2). Underpinning everything is a revised operational approach (6) built with the appropriate mindset and delivery culture. Our strategy has taken account of the opportunities we expect to take advantage of in the future we can imagine at this time (7)

*The strategy includes the values, principles and imperatives. It embraces the critical domains of cross-functional working, the new routes to market and the culture needed by leadership teams to win.

Simplifying The Strategy For Deployment — Not An Incoherent Strategy paper

Focus On Leadership Challenges

To understand the new world, business need to reimagine and reposition operate and reposition the business.

Identify the root causes of the barriers to change and opportunity.

Our approach deals with these and any other ‘presenting’ challenge. The approach always delivers fresh understanding and insight across the team. Our approach majors on decision quality — making high-quality decisions interrelatedly.

  1. Creating a clear and coherent vision
  2. Understanding the new world — Web 3, Automation — everything
  3. Helping the team align as a leadership team
  4. Create the strategy to transition and transform
  5. Develop the way the operation needs to change
  6. Cause cultural engagement and change
  7. Overcome a complex business challenge
  8. Consider a new market position and launch new products or services
  9. Create an environment where relationships can be built — internally and externally.

The Advantages:

  • Fast time to results.
  • Confidence in the broader system of things.
  • Seeing how to make high-quality decisions/choices
  • Deep definition of all the moving parts.
  • Quickly understanding the stakeholders and adjacencies of each other’s roles and responsibilities.
  • A coherent baseline upon which to build the actions and initiatives that connect to the big prize — the outcomes and intentions the business wants.
  • A way to communicate (immersively) beyond those who typically create a strategy.
  • Build fresh narratives and stories that will differentiate and distinguish.
  • Understand the critical interconnections between all divisions — overcoming silos and breakdowns in the system.
  • Building a blueprint shows everyone where they should focus and how that interoperates.
  • Immersively developing a team for the future. A way of binding everyone to a common aim in a way that can be the basis of a new culture.
  • AVisually allowing people to see what they mean. For the first time, they see their own words and ideas in the context of everyone else and in terms of the outcome.
  • See what can be stopped.
  • Know why the choices make sense because leaders can see the reasons within the logic.

Scenario — A Culture That Works

We apply the above techniques to deepen the idea of culture.

Culture is the raw material needed to win. We need to consider it the superpower that inspires everyone to care about the business and the outcome.

Often the casualty of a tick-box mentality — culture should be the visible spirit — borne by leaders and igniting everyone else — pervading the halls and walls of every working environment.

It’s an unwritten and hard-to-write-down life-or-death code of practice. By bringing it to life through a strategy, it’s easy to see why strategies fail without it.

Culture sets the bar. Good culture defines how best to behave and demosnstrates how empowered people are to act. It’s can alter the standard for behaviour. You can’t touch it, but you can feel it — especially when it’s not there.

Culture is a misused term. There’s nothing wrong with the word, but how it is defined can be catastrophic. For many organisations, the importance of it in everything that happens in business has become minimised.

Culture is the way a business works and how leaders need to think.

It’s also how leaders should work if they want the business to think — in the correct way for the business to work.

We have come to think of culture as a loose idea. It’s seen as vague and intangible, but there’s nothing further from the truth. Culture is everything.

We attach culture to each component in the blueprint. How we think, work and act are vital to achieving each action and initiative and maintaining well-being.

All within the context of the framework we co-create.

It’s how leaders inspire and motivate. It’s how the business attracts fresh talent. It’s about emotional attachment and empathy. It requires safe spaces and meaningful delegation of decision-making. Culture creates trust — the currency of every successful business.

“Trust is a confident relationship with the unknown” — Rachel Botman

Scenario: Cross-Functional Working:

Seeing how things add up avoids traditional dysfunction. Not seeing how they add up guarantees they will break down.

Witnessing conversations and debates around achieving outcomes has a magic to it. Teams with long-term and entrenched positions have relied on partial data and, in most cases, their terms and codes of practice.

As they begin to see how differences are often much less different than thought when the meaning is revisited. They begin to see how the work can be streamlined and made more accessible.

Group Partners have a unique way of stimulating and then gaining collective energy. This allows everyone to get behind the actions and initiatives that emerge simultaneously as agreed by the unfolding logic of strategy. (Business Equation™ — The System Of Things)

As often happens, the separate divisions of the business believe they have entirely and (they believe) ‘legitimately’ separate contexts and perspectives on what needs to be done. This is catastrophic and wrong.

Plans made by individual divisions are typically concocted way outside the important and complete system of things.

Getting teams to rewire the way they think and communicate across divisions is vital for progress to be made. But it’s life and death for any strategy that plans are made together and consciously add up to the stated outcome. Not the other way around.

FOUR: Marketing And Opportunity:

The engine room of the modern business must be a dynamic machine capable of taking in consumers’ insights and creating products and services that resonate.

This has to happen together with its marketing.

Making these connections clear and ensuring everyone sees and appreciates their role within it takes considerable effort. Connecting with the vision, outcomes, and initiatives demands considerable focus. That takes collective determination, creativity and capability — in real-time.

All parties must need to define a shared meaning of seamlessness.

They need to nature of the machine. It requires contributions on all sides as the consumer needs to taste the coherence of all these parts of the business.

Simply put, it takes those with an engineering and manufacturing background to work together with marketing and sales disciplines. This is very often not the case.

Only by seeing the critical dependencies and inputs to this will these parts of the business be able to fully understand and grasp the precision required to make this work.

Only by seeing the business as a system will this happen.

Visit www.grouppartners.online for more information.

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John Caswell
The A-Z Of Group Partners

I'm John Caswell - The founder and CEO of Group Partners. We Help Clients Make Strategies That Work. I’m The Head Of Crayons.