• Jim Canfield

Roles-at-the-Top Exercise



What would you say is the most crucial aspect of your business? Usually, you look at customer satisfaction, revenue and profit growth, company values, and employee satisfaction come to mind.


However, you may find that some of the things that are critical to your success don't have a specific person in charge of them. They need a champion.


Identify Ownership


Next, you should look at leadership and how your organization is structured. You probably have a chief executive officer, a chief operation executive, and a chief financial executive, among other executive roles.


The Roles-at-the-Top exercise shows you how to divide important tasks or aspects among your executives and managers to assign a champion to track and manage the outcomes.


In this exercise, the chief executive and senior managers assign a champion but periodically trade roles from one area to another to help, align, fix, support, and ensure success for the long term. The following list of roles might help illuminate this concept. Identify the individual who is monitoring these things in your company.


Attention Required


The answer to the question, “Who is monitoring these areas?” often is either “everyone” or “me.” If everyone is keeping tabs on something, that usually means that nobody is because each person thinks someone else is watching it. And if the answer to that question is me, then that means no one’s watching it as well, since no single leader can keep up with all those areas at once.


Gather your managers together to rate the current performance in these key areas on a one-to-ten scale. A score of one is terrible; something must be done immediately to improve it. A score of 10 is great or almost perfect.


Compile the results to determine which areas need the most attention. Ask the group to brainstorm ideas to address weaker areas. This exercise can yield remarkable results because your people always know where the weak spots are—and they know how to fix them. The problem is, they usually don’t have the time, the teamwork, or all the tools to fix them.


The Roles-at-the-Top exercise is about setting goals for each key area and divvying up the responsibility for getting them done. Try meeting once a month to challenge each other on the progress. Check off the action items and form some new ones. Coach and help each other to reassess on a continuing basis. Then rotate the non-job-specific roles at least annually.



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