Brain power

3 approaches to forming a leadership team

Originally posted on The Horizons Tracker.

CEOs are only as strong as the teams they lead, so it’s vital that leadership teams not only feature the right individuals, but that those individuals work effectively together. In The Next Leadership Team1 the University of Zurich’s Thomas Keil joins Marianna Zangrillo to outline the best way to ensure that the right leadership teams are forged. They describe three core approaches leaders can take:

  • Team of Stars – This is when leaders focus on getting the highest quality individuals possible into the leadership team. It’s an approach that is characterized by competition and individual performance, with minimal collaboration between units. It can help to ensure rapid decision-making but also runs the risk of being heavily disrupted by political wrangling.
  • Synergistic Team – By contrast, a synergistic team focuses far more on collaboration and has a more consensual decision-making process. The diversity of inputs can lead to better decisions, while this can also improve the implementation of those decisions. Of course, it can also result in decision-making becoming laborious and team members becoming too complacent.
  • Stretch Team – The final approach aims to strike a balance between the previous two approaches. It sees constructive conflict encouraged and combines star and team players. The aim is to mix individual initiative and coordination in a bid to limit the negative aspects of the previous two approaches while retaining their benefits. The betwixt, and between approach can dissuade those who are either star or team players from wanting to join, however, with mediocre outcomes a real risk.

The three groupings are the result of a ten-year research program into how different organizations have managed to build, organize, and manage leadership teams.

Article source: 3 Approaches to Forming a Leadership Team.


  1. Keil, T., & Zangrillo, M. (2023). The Next Leadership Team: How to Select, Build, and Optimize Your Top Team. Taylor & Francis.
5/5 - (1 vote)

Adi Gaskell

I'm an old school liberal with a love of self organizing systems. I hold a masters degree in IT, specializing in artificial intelligence and enjoy exploring the edge of organizational behavior. I specialize in finding the many great things that are happening in the world, and helping organizations apply these changes to their own environments. I also blog for some of the biggest sites in the industry, including Forbes, Social Business News, Social Media Today and, whilst also covering the latest trends in the social business world on my own website. I have also delivered talks on the subject for the likes of the NUJ, the Guardian, Stevenage Bioscience and CMI, whilst also appearing on shows such as BBC Radio 5 Live and Calgary Today.

Related Articles

One Comment

  1. I like the generalized analysis of leadership teams in this article. I’m sure the research is vastly more detailed. But I think the differentiation of the three categories is enhanced if not distorted by there being no metion of the role of a ‘leader’ in leading the teams, or the competence of members of each category to their assigned functional responsibilities / authorities.

Back to top button