7 Questions Every Executive Team Must Be Able To Answer

Create clarity. Make choices and simplify your business

Reading Time: 3 Mins

What is the most important work of the Executive Team?

It’s to get onto the same page and decide what really matters for the organisation.

Without clarity your customers become confused … and your employees get frustrated. You risk becoming all things to all people.

That’s not a healthy place to be.

The Executive Team must make choices about what is most important.

This is achieved by answering a handful of critical questions. We call them the 7 Essential Clarity Questions.

 The 7 Essential Clarity Questions

  1. Why do you exist … your core purpose (beyond making money)?

This explains why you matter and to whom. It is your organisation’s highest motivation.

If it’s sincere and heartfelt your core purpose is a powerful source of inspiration for the people who work there.

  1. What do you do … your business definition?

Your answer here is a literal one. It’s what you actually do to fulfill your core purpose.

Two linked questions are who is your customer and how does your business make money?

Business acumen at all levels of your organisation is important. I’ve discovered how few people actually understand how their business makes money. And therefore what the right things are to measure, put resources into and stop doing!

  1. What are you busy building … your dream for the future?

This is where you are headed. What you aspire to be. People in your business, and those you want to attract, should be able to say, “Yes, I want to be part of going there!”

  1. How do you differentiate … why will the customer choose you?

This is your strategy … your unique approach to delivering value to your customer. I love to boil it down to 3 things, which we call your strategic anchors.

Southwest Airlines one of my favourite companies, does this so well. For them, it’s these 3 things: Low fares, on time and treat customers well.

They get these 3 right more than any other airline. It’s why they’ve been so successful over many years.

  1. What is most important your highest priority right now?

This is your overarching goal for the business for a defined period. Normally 6-12 months.

For many of my clients during COVID19, it was ‘keep the business alive.’

Now many are going onto the offensive. They are defining their highest priority for the next 12 months, knowing that now is the time to get back to business and pull ahead.

  1. Who must do what?

At one level this is obvious. But obvious doesn’t mean it’s common.

Each person must be 100% clear on what they need to do to make the team or business succeed. Everyone else on the team must also believe that this person is willing and able to make this contribution.

I don’t mean just to pay lip service to this. But to have deep confidence in fellow team members to fulfill their promise to the team.

  1. How will you behave … your core values?

These are the few behaviours that set your company apart. This is not the usual stuff like honesty, integrity and teamwork. These aren’t differentiating. Everyone has these.

I mean the behaviours that are uniquely associated with you.

Capitec, another of my favourite companies, does this brilliantly. They call it their C.E.O – their behavioural standard for everyone … from the Top to the Frontline. It stands for Client First, Energy and Ownership.

Over the past 20 years, they’ve baked these 3 behaviours into their business processes and culture. It’s part of their special formula for success.

Finally, because you’re a leader more is expected.

For leaders there is an 8th question … how will you behave?

Your Vital Leadership Behaviours .. to answer how you will conduct yourselves … to unlock the potential in your people … inspire hope and confidence and build a winning business?

This is often overlooked. But is a mistake. There’s true power in a Leadership Charter that simply describes your Vital Leadership Behaviours.

Once you’ve done the work to create clarity … what happens next?

  1. Simplify it onto a single page. Do this intentionally. Make it visual, memorable, and accessible.
  2. Take it to the business and get ready to listen. Invite contributions and have the humility to revise your plan.
  3. Overcommunicate and KEEP IT ALIVE. Make this the most important document in your business.

We love to hear from you. Please comment below.

Which question do you think is most important, the most difficult to answer, or the one that gets the least attention?

3 replies
  1. Graham Vercueil
    Graham Vercueil says:

    Hi Grant,
    from where I sit, I have always felt that the two key questions are
    “How you differentiate” and “How you behave.” Differentiation gives people the reason to choose YOU and the values give the culture which gives the employees identity, belonging, and ownership.
    Graham

    Reply
    • Grant Ashfield
      Grant Ashfield says:

      Thanks Graham – yes those two are so important and when working with a team very often the hardest to describe. They take real work, effort, and dedication. Thank you for your comments. Grant

      Reply

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