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What makes a successful Executive team?


Being chosen for a role with the primary responsibility of caring for others is a privilege. It's an honor to be selected for these positions. The real challenge is to be worthy of that honor every day.

Too much?

You're right to think that. It's a lot.

Notice though, you're part of an executive "team". Everything that needs to be done can only be done with a team. An executive team is expected to model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the status quo, enable others to act, and worry about heart counts not head counts. Always remember...

"Our job in life is to make a positive difference, not prove we're right."
-Peter Drucker


Understanding why your organization exists and how it hopes to have an impact is paramount for everyone, especially those who lead others. Try this exercise. Take the organization chart and turn it upside down. Ask: What are we (the executive team) doing to help others be successful? Stay authentic. Stick to your strengths. Effectiveness is only achieved through strengths. That way, when the "tide" comes in, everyone rises.


"The way we do things around here..." is always shifting unless you're intentional about how you want things to feel. What does it mean to be part of your organization? Can everyone articulate it in their own words? If you're not sure what you want, a little bit of everything is what you'll get. When people feel safe they'll stop doing things to be safe and display vulnerability with each other. Watch for the positive behaviors of asking for help and sincere apologies as signs you're on the right track.


When you realize the people you lead are someone's precious daughter, son, sister, brother, spouse, mother, or father your mindset shifts. When this happens, people are not just another item on the balance sheet, they all deserve to be cared for. When you care for people in this way the natural response is to help one another and collaborate.


The difference between a job and a calling is the connection team members have to each other and the impact they're having in the world. This comes from treating them like you never want them to leave. Focus on opportunities first, and problems second. Maintain high morale through intentional informal and formal recognition and appreciation. Celebrations are one of the best retention tools you have!

Try this guiding principle of leadership to focus your approach...

"We measure success by the way we touch the lives of others."
-Bob Chapman, CEO, Barry-Wehmiller

The game-changing idea that will alter the course of history lives in the minds of one of the people you're leading today. Your job is to nurture an environment that unleashes their brilliance and helps connect it to those who can act on it. It's time to listen, learn, and create more leaders. The challenges we face are wicked hard; thank goodness those we lead are wicked smart.

If you choose to tackle the executive leadership challenge, thank you. Thank you for your passion, excellence, and willingness to take on responsibilities when our country needs your best. We're proud to serve alongside you, keep leading!

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This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension (funding opportunity no. USDA-NIFA-OP-010186), grant no. 2023-41595-41325 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Extension Foundation. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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