As today’s organizations grow more interconnected and complex, how can we ensure that our employees have all the skills and knowledge they need to be as effective as they can be?
Leaders themselves often struggle with the need to update their skillsets, and the only way to grow a new generation of leaders who are able to effectively work with multiple stakeholders across the organization is to start developing leadership skills among non-managerial staff.
“Professionals constantly find themselves leading or driving a process or team, regardless of whether they have any direct reports,” says Cathy Cassidy, MMI’s Managing Director. “We need to help them see themselves as empowered adults and give them practical skills to handle these situations effectively.”
She recommends looking at the following three key training topics.
1. Being Accountable
Leaders and professionals need to be able to work in a function (such as marketing, or IT), on a project team, with another business process team, lead an initiative, etc. This requires the ability to move around in the organization based on where specific skills are needed.
According to Cassidy, to achieve this agility, professionals need to learn how to influence and negotiate with integrity with the best interests of the organization in mind. They also need to understand what matrix accountability means and how it follows them wherever they may be working in the organization.
Most individuals are used to having a single type of accountability that is tied to the work they do for their function. In a matrix, they work a lot outside the function—in cross-functional teams. They need to understand what accountability means in that context.
“You need to know there’s an accountability process you can follow. You as a professional are in the great position to know how to produce the outcomes in the most effective and efficient way, so you need to make this knowledge work for your team and the organization as a whole,” says Cassidy.
2. Collaborative Methods
Even the most narrowly-focused technical professionals now need to collaborate and look at other aspects of the organization beyond their direct scope of work. Without proper training, this can be very frustrating on an individual level and result in delayed projects and unnecessarily high costs at the organizational level.
“Take project management, for example. There’s lots of processes out there,” says Cassidy, “but they don’t teach you how to build rapport with others or negotiate project timelines and deliverables without constantly escalating these issues to your boss.” Training on collaborative methods provides tools and best practices for working in a team-based, collaborative context.
3. Meeting Leadership
Professionals often find themselves leading a meeting. All too often, meetings turn into a debate over an issue with either no decision made or one that not everyone feels they can live with. Effective meeting leadership is a skill that professionals and leaders alike need to have.
Meeting leaders need to learn a collaborative tool for making effective decisions together. A collaborative decision-making process will ensure that the group gets to the key factors in the decision quickly and comes away with not only the best possible decision, but consensus around that decision.
Organizations can truly benefit from both an established meeting management process and more individuals trained as meeting leaders. “A strong meeting leader can turn a meeting 180 degrees, from disastrous to productive,“ says Cassidy.
Collaborative methods are instrumental for today’s organizations. Explore your training options