Around a year and a half ago, I established a broader leadership group beyond our executive team at Buffer, including anyone who is a manager or a senior individual contributor. It's been helpful in a number of ways.
In the early stages of a company, until around 50 people, a leadership team of adequate size can handle the most important decisions and have enough context into the organization.
But as you scale beyond 50, I've found that there's a lot of value in establishing a "leadership group" as a second layer of leadership beyond the executive team, consisting of managers and senior individual contributors.
At @buffer, we're currently 80 people and we have 22 in our leadership group. There's something quite powerful about having a quarter of the team in this group where we can discuss challenges, share knowledge and get help in rolling out strategy and culture shifts.
By setting up this "leadership group", you can activate those growing leaders to participate in some of the larger decisions and more difficult situations that you need to navigate as a company.
Without explicitly setting up a leadership group, I found that more of the burden and challenges fell on a small group. This is both more weight to carry than necessary and a missed opportunity to have a larger group positively affecting the company.
Additionally, it's a gift to those who have reached that level of seniority and leadership in the company, to explicitly ask them to step up even more. This can provide a lot of growth that helps the individual and the company.
A few of the things we've done to help this group connect and to have them meaningfully contribute beyond their specific role and area:
1️⃣ I host a monthly "Leadership Roundtable" with folks in this group. It's an hour long meeting where I choose two current topics to discuss, debate and align around as a group.
2️⃣ We set up Slack and Threads (our tool for longer form comms) channels to give this group a space to share ideas and challenges asynchronously with each other.
3️⃣ We set up regular (weekly) "Leadership Lounges" for this group to connect in a much more casual setting. These are optional, and the idea is to create a sort of "Teacher's Lounge" environment for catching up on anything in or outside work.
An important note: the goal isn't to have important decisions become consensus-based among this larger group, I don't believe that is an effective way to arrive at the best or most timely outcomes.
Instead, the goal is to help people understand and start to experience a broader set of challenges and more difficult calls to make. In that process, you create valuable alignment and awareness, and also help those leaders continue to grow.
The leadership group is a way to create useful connections and knowledge sharing between leaders of different areas who may not necessarily interact week to week. There are many similar and transferable challenges across areas where it can be useful to tap into the knowledge of another leader.
Do you have anything similar in place at your company? How do you approach driving connections between leaders, helping them grow further, and inviting them to take part in the important company-level decisions? I'd love to hear questions, suggestions or comments on this topic!
Based on this note: The importance of developing a broader leadership group as you scale