Cultivating Community

In our latest leadership report, we dive deeper into cultivating community.

Cultivating Community

I’m not quite sure when the silos went up, but I do know that we’ve been talking about breaking them down for at least three decades. The reality is that nobody thinks silos are a good thing, they’re a natural consequence of organizations getting larger and more complex, and people naturally focusing on their personal or team mandates.

As a coaching organization, we’ve noticed the need for and desire for a move to focusing on the collective strengths of all people, teams etc. within an organization over the “heroic leader” which is outdated and not sustainable for growth.

As senior leaders, we’re not just architects of strategy but also cultivators of culture. And culture happens whether you’re intentionally creating it or not. What kind of culture appeals to you? One where everyone works separately, and re-work/’reinventing the wheel’ is the norm? Or, one where our organizations resembled vibrant marketplaces, buzzing with the exchange of ideas and expertise?

We know that leaders are well intentioned, and obviously the second sounds better, but how do you take steps to get there? Here are some ideas:

1) Create Cross-Functional Teams

This could be done for many reasons, here are a few:

  • Developing new products or services.
  • Enhancing operational efficiency and product quality.
  • Improving customer experience.
  • Strategizing for market entry or expansion.
  • Initiating sustainability projects.

For maximum agility and efficiency, we recommend a team size of 5-9, ensuring a balanced mix of skills, healthy team dynamics, leadership support, and clear goals and objectives.

2) Facilitate Knowledge Sharing

This might sound like a “no duh”, but the challenge is finding ways to do this and make it stick. Here are some low effort ways.

  • Organize cross-functional meetings/workshops. Depending on the size of your organization, consider booking quarterly or bi-annual meetings between your department or team and another department or team that you work with and need to understand better. Share your top priorities, your challenges, do breakouts in mixed groups to understand roles, identify areas for collaboration or solve problems.
  • Establish communities of practice based on specific areas of interest or expertise that span different functions. This could be a project management methodology group, like agile and scrum practices or it could be for new leaders focusing on leadership 101.
  • Leverage mentorship programs. Mentorship programs are instrumental in talent development, skill enhancement, knowledge transfer, and succession planning. Shoutout to our group mentorship program, Catalyst, which provides a structured approach for senior leaders to mentor a group of key talent across the organization. This builds networks, develops leaders, and gives leaders a line of sight into the talent they wouldn’t typically work with.

3) Lead by Example

  • Work with your peers in other functions to create these cross functional opportunities.
  • Actively participate in cross-functional initiatives.
  • Reward and recognize cross-functional collaboration/community when you see it.
  • Build cross-functional community into your organizational values.

When you can create a feeling of cross-functional community in an organization the direct benefit is better problem solving, increased efficiency, better product quality, and better decision making. But those are the ones you already knew about. There are indirect benefits too, like increased engagement, network building and organizational cohesion.

As a senior leader, it’s also very important to be intentional about building your own networks and communities for your own engagement and confidence. It can feel lonely at the top. Who are your cheerleaders? How are you developing and fostering relationships that fill your personal bucket? Who is checking in on how you’re doing?

If you’re interested in learning how you can leverage group coaching to eliminate silos, grow capabilities and boost engagement, please reach out. Our Roundtable group coaching and mentoring programs help cultivate cultures that support unleashing the collective impact of leaders and teams.

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