Do you have an inner triad or quad of decision makers in your Exec?


Do you have an inner triad or quad of decision makers in your Exec?

Who really makes the decisions for your company?  Who is really leading your organisation?  Do you have a reasonable size Exec/Board, but what is reasonable?

Time and again I speak to CEO’s who have 7, 8, even 10 people reporting to them and making up their Exec team.  I hear you thinking… “What’s wrong with that? I’ve got a CFO, a CPO, a COO, a CCO, a CTO, a CRO, a CDO, so I’ve got all angles covered”.  But are you close to all of them?  Who do you make key decisions with?  There is no way there is enough time for all possible people to make decisions together, this is where the inner triad or quad comes into play. Those you talk to openly, those you go to immediately when moving swiftly, those you email without hesitation on a Friday night…. they are your inner triad or quad.

It’s easy to carry on in this way, opening up topics to the whole group and listening to all feedback but then making the real decisions with your main two (commonly your people person and your finance person).  It isn’t the most effective use of the triad, or the others or even yourself.  This method limits the possibilities of a more diverse and creative, innovative team output.

We know it was never meant to be this way, all the best intentions led to this, for instance Jo is new and not up to speed yet, Flo isn’t really on board with the new vision or Bob is always taking us backwards and over-analysing, and so on.  We tend to box people, we know they are good at the thing we need them for, so we let them be boxed and don’t invite them out.  And then we get irritated when they seem to operate in their “silo” and won’t step up.  They aren’t really empowered to be their best, because we’ve never really let them show us what they can do outside of their boxes.

Inner triads are commonplace.  And everyone knows they exist.  But no one talks about it.

So, if you feel this is similar to your situation, what can be done? Some options are:

 – Call it out and differentiate them as the real leadership team. It may ruffle feathers with those who initially feel they are being demoted, but when you’re pressured to meet very demanding targets in a brief period of time, you don’t have the luxury of time to appease everyone.  More often than not, there is the unexpected positive response, as it can be a huge relief for all involved that responsibilities are clear and open; meaning others can know their level of influence and it reduces negative “politics” that permeate throughout teams.

 – Give people a fresh chance. If you are hesitant with you who really trust, you could first create platforms that open up opportunities for you to see the greater value of each person in a new light.  Telling people that they need to “step up” doesn’t work – creating opportunity and inviting people to input to specific business challenges and explaining clearly what outcome is expected of them, is empowering and inspiring.  You may open up to involve more people in decision making but I doubt you have the time to continually involve everyone, without getting exhausted or limiting involvement to any real benefit.

 – Restructure quickly. If you’re really up against critical deadlines you could review your team against your current and future vision and strategy, identify the roles you absolutely require and cull the other roles.  Roles, not people.  Get your direct team down to 4-6 max. Then engage and motivate those people to be a truly high performing team rapidly.

If you would like further support on how we can help you evolve your people culture, then please Get in Touch. We work with CEO’s to engage their teams, always aligning what we offer to the broader strategy.  We then motivate teams to evolve and grow together for the benefit of themselves, those they lead and the organisation.

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