Building and Activating Championship Teams

June 6, 2019 – Jill Hill, Ph.D. leads YSC Consulting’s Private Equity Practice for the Americas, advising many of the world’s leading global PE firms on their toughest leadership and talent challenges. Jill is a strategic partner who specializes in providing management due diligence, senior executive assessment, coaching, board effectiveness, and high-performance team development to investors, Boards, CEOs, and portfolio company management teams.

Isabella Roger, Ph.D. specializes in helping Private Equity firms and portfolio management teams achieve results by aligning and developing the leadership, talent and organizational variables required to deliver the investment thesis. Isabella brings expertise in Executive Leadership Assessment, Leadership Development, CEO Succession Planning, High-Potential Development, High Performing Team Development, 360 Feedback Surveys, Organizational Design, and Organizational Culture.


Closing a new deal is an exhilarating moment, one marked by excitement and anticipation. It is also the best time to start investing in the leaders and talent who will play a pivotal role in the overall success of the investment. In our experience, the number one priority post-close is supporting and activating the management team. While it can be tempting to dive straight into operational opportunities, we argue that the larger opportunity for improving organizational effectiveness and accelerating performance in the long run is ensuring that the top team operates as a championship team.

While there is no scarcity of motivated management teams, there are several key factors that distinguish championship teams from other groups of talented leaders. Most importantly, championship teams are fully aligned and deeply aware of the mix of skills and capabilities across the team. These teams play to their strengths and mitigate their risk areas. They also regularly monitor and re-evaluate their team principles and group dynamics to ensure that trust, communication and focus remain strong.

With these pillars in place, management teams generate exponential impact in terms of leading their organizations and rallying employees around a clear strategic vision. They are also better positioned to maintain a strong read on the true state of the organization because they are not spending their time putting out fires at the top.

Clear Benefits

The benefits of activating championship teams are plentiful and clear. How exactly to evaluate teams and accomplish this, however, is an area where many savvy investors rightly seek some additional external support. Working in partnership with PE firms, CEOs and management teams, YSC’s PE consultants help answer the most pressing and challenging talent questions:

• Is this group of leaders functioning as a high performing team?

• Are they aligned on the strategy?

• Will they relentlessly drive to deliver excellence?

• How will each leader contribute to the company’s new chapter of change and growth?

• What support does the team need to accelerate optimal performance?

Our rigorous, data-driven approach integrates techniques and best practices from organizational behavior, clinical psychology, and management studies. We begin by focusing on the strategic context. To know where the company is going, we spend time with deal partners and portfolio executives to understand the current state and the features of the desired future state in terms of leadership, team and cultural characteristics.

“Championship teams are fully aligned and deeply aware of the mix of skills and capabilities across the team. These teams play to their strengths and mitigate their risk areas.”

Driving Performance

Building and supporting a championship management team that can deliver the anticipated results begins with a thorough evaluation of the company’s existing strategic goals as well as the PE firm’s investment thesis. From here, the key strengths and leadership skills required to drive these strategic goals are identified, and a structured approach to enhancing these skills at the top of the organization can be launched.

In our view, activating the team starts with gaining in-depth insight into each of the team members as individuals and as leaders.

To attain this goal, we incorporate advanced psychometrics and behavioral interviewing to gain a deep understanding of each leader in a short period of time. Layering on team effectiveness analyses, we develop a clear view of the team’s dynamics and opportunity areas. These insights provide the foundation that allows us to recommend targeted, high impact individual and team development actions proven to drive successful performance.

As relationship-oriented leadership experts, our genuine developmental lens significantly differentiates our approach in the marketplace. We work exceptionally hard to support and partner with management teams; our processes reflect a done with approach rather than one that is done to. Trust, open communication and a transparent partnership are keys to unlocking the insights that will actually move the needle.

Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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