The first question is: do you really know who are, or should be, on your top team? We frequently have people there who have gravitated upwards less through their abilities but rather more by dint of their longevity. They have simply been around and while they have shown loyalty, their contribution has perhaps been only adequate.
Furthermore people like that hold down the up and coming people who can be the future of the business. The great leader will make it his or her duty to seek out and develop new talent.
However we have what we have and Larry suggests that we shine a light on our top team to assess their real capabilities and how they contribute to the business.
It is not a particularly objective study; rather a subjective view of each individual and how they fit in and contribute. For example how do they relate to others on the team? What (if anything) drives them? What is their work ethic? What are their ambitions? How do they contribute to discussions?
The trick now is to make it more objective so if we then allocate an assessment number from 1 (why are they there?) to 10 (can’t run the business without them) for each of the criteria we start to get to a more objective view of each individual.
The hard, and sometimes emotional problem, is that we then can get an average number from 1 to 10 as to their overall value to the business. The aim is to have everyone on the top team rating 9.5 at least and questions must be asked of those whose ratings are lower than that.
Larry King says that someone scoring 8 will probably be able to improve with help to a top rating but below 8 there is some doubt as to whether people can improve sufficiently to make the 9.5.
The tough question is; what do we do about the low scorers and why are they there anyway? That is a management issue and decisions need to be taken as to how perhaps to re-allocate them into positions where their talents can be better utilised.
As Jim Collins says, we need to get the best possible people on the bus and all facing on the same direction. Ideally the leader has to have all 9.5 people in the team and this is a useful tool to help shine the light on the team.
The tough question to ask yourself is, what action do you need to take right now?