We’re consistently asked how to develop leaders so they can work better in a matrix and what are the core competencies that they will need.
I smile when asked this, because I know my answer is going to surprise them.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, "The customer is king!" It’s been around since about the 1990's and the expression has become ubiquitous. But have you considered where this expression came from in the first place?
Because it’s creating tyranny in our projects and organizations.
Almost every leader these days is leading a project or initiative, which makes sense if you consider that anything you want to achieve in an organization is actually accomplished through projects.
But when they get delayed or fall apart, it leaves people disengaged and feeling overworked.
Have you been there?
Getting results without authority, negotiating the best outcome, and influencing peers and superiors is no longer just for professional mediators, attorneys, or UN peace-keepers. We all need these skills right at our work places, and they are worth practicing daily.
Organizations where influencing and negotiation skills are strong are able to create lasting changes, attract best talent, and deliver their best products and services.
Change starts and stops with the organization's leaders. Every restructuring or change initiative brings about graphs and plans showing effective collaboration, optimized resources, and great teams.
Yet, more often than not, these ideas stay on paper. Senior leaders who often initiate and direct change initiatives are the very people who have the hardest time adopting new behaviors and practices. Why so?
Traditional leaders are used to their “command-and-control” leadership styles that they’ve gotten comfortable with (and worked towards) their entire careers. In order for leaders to change their ways, they need to understand what true collaboration is, have a way to learn new skills effectively, and set standards for others in the organization to follow.
When you're leading teams that include stakeholders, which is pretty much most teams nowadays, authority isn't going to do you much good. Even direct reports no longer appreciate the use of authority or accept the "because I said so" management style - they want to weigh in on decisions.
Good news is here - you don't need authority in order to lead!
Several recent studies have indicated that collaboration can hurt your organization and your best people, the most insightful and capable, the best team players. The truth, though, is that collaboration is typically misunderstood and improperly applied. So instead of blaming this problem on collaboration, leaders need to address the real causes of this situation.
As leaders, we are wired to be efficient, to not spin our wheels, and not waste resources. Working with others can sometimes get complicated and frustrating - far from efficient. Consensus, adoption, team participation may sound like a leader's worst nightmare, but here are our thoughts on how leading your team collaboratively is actually the way to achieve efficiency.
Nobody likes to be bossed around. Yet a strong boss who is able to direct the actions of others is the type of leader organizations often find desirable as their processes and relationships become more complex. Traditional hierarchy is often seen as the only solution to managing complexity. Lines of communication and command are clear. Roles are clear. Decision-making is firmly in the hands of a boss. Team members follow the boss's lead. In theory, this seems straightforward but it’s actually much more complicated.
Do your team members struggle to work together? Do your team leaders struggle to bring high-performing teams together to deliver team outcomes? Do team members succeed at fulfilling their individual assignments, but projects still fail?
We feel your pain and we have the cure. Shared team accountability.