Part 2: What Makes A Successful Team: External Focus


If you’ve already tried to increase your senior team’s performance, you’ll know that it’s not a simple task.

In this blog we share with you why a lack of External Focus could be the key to your team’s poor performance and how you can simply and pragmatically pin point the key areas that require changing, developing and leveraging.

What is External Focus and why is it important?

With over 25 years of working with senior leaders and teams, we know that External Focus is one of the six key dimensions of a high performing, successful team. That’s why we’ve included it in our diagnostic tool: Successful Teams Model, which we’ve designed to help you grow a sustainably successful senior team!

External Focus is when a senior team is always focused on their key stakeholders, clients and/or the people they lead - no matter what.

Highly successful senior teams with great external focus experience the following:

• Never lose focus of their stakeholders, clients and their people.

• Communicate effectively outside the core team.

• Establish strong external relationships and are able to leverage them for success.

• Continually benchmark and monitor what is going on around them, in case it impacts their performance, or they can use the information to enhance performance.

However, senior teams with poor external focus experience:

• Stakeholders, clients and their people experience a lack of clear communication and feel undervalued.

• External relationships are weak, unreliable and lacking.

• External environment and competitive arena are not monitored, evaluated or checked, resulting in poor performance and/or missed opportunities.

That’s why, by strengthening your senior team’s external focus, not only will you save time and money on costly mistakes and poor performance, but you’ll never be worried about your team’s motivation again!

So what are the 5 key factors that make up External Focus?

1. Customer or client focus

It’s crucial for your senior team to understand what your customer’s or client’s needs are and when and if they change during the course of your projects. Be aware of external forces which may impact your customer or client, or team during the process. Without this focus you could end up delivering what was originally asked for, but not what your customer really needs.

2. Stakeholder management

This might seem obvious, but it’s imperative that your senior team know exactly who their stakeholders are and what their objectives are. One of the important roles of the senior team is to manage their stakeholders’ expectations with clear, consistent communication.

3. External relationships

The senior team must create, develop and cultivate relevant relationships with current and potential clients or customers, or stakeholders and maintain those relationships to the best of their ability.

This is because it’s rare that a business provides a product or service that is so unique or ground-breaking that it sells itself. However, as we’re sure you know, the one thing that has remained constant in our society is that people buy from people they know, like and trust - regardless of whether the product or services is better than anything else on the market.

Building, growing and nurturing external relationships is therefore an important part of successfully and sustainably winning and developing business.

[Read Ascend’s article ‘Gaining Competitive Advantage Through The Power Of Relationships’ for their best advice on quickly building close, trusting external relationships.]

4. Benchmarking

Benchmarking is understanding what others might be up to, learning from them and really knowing what ‘world-class’ looks like outside of your organisation.

Once the senior team has this understanding and knowledge, it’s important they act upon it by implementing anything that they think would improve their team’s performance and provide them with a competitive edge.

5. Communication

Finally, the cornerstone of External Focus is of course clear, consistent communication. It’s vital that the senior team ensures their key stakeholders, customers or clients and their members understands exactly what the team and organisation is doing, why they’re doing it and how they’re doing it.

How should you enhance your team’s external focus?

It’s difficult to give you a definitive answer, as each of the road maps and strategies we create for our clients are uniquely tailored to their needs. We use our Successful Teams Model to diagnose their strengths and weaknesses, to uncover what we can leverage and which areas need developing.

You might also enjoy: 6 Compelling Reasons To Invest in Ascend’s Successful Teams diagnostic tool

If you’d like help developing your senior team’s External Focus, send Christina an email with the subject ‘Successful Teams Model’ and we’ll do our best to maximise your team’s performance!