Written By: Jamie Niessen, CEO and President
If you’ve ever worked on the leadership group of an organization then you’re probably familiar with this scenario: Everyone shows up to the meeting as a representative of their department or area of responsibility. Strategies, plans and problems are all discussed and each member of the leadership team dutifully represents his or her respective constituency.
Here’s the problem – the goal of this work isn’t representation, it’s leadership. The extent to which leaders represent the interest of their particular department or group is the extent to which the view of the entire organization as a system is diminished. The CEO cannot be the only person at the table thinking about the entire organization. Support from the entire leadership team, however big or small, is essential in fulfilling your mission.
Making your leadership team your #1 team is the first step. In practice, this means leaders must recognize their work leading a department or group is a different responsibility from participating on a leadership team. On a leadership team, you are focused on how you need to work collaboratively to accomplish the goals of the organization. Does this mean to be on a leadership team you can’t be a voice or advocate for issues related to the work you lead in the organization? No, not at all.
What it does mean is that as a leadership team member it’s not about your department, it’s about the entire organization. When the leadership team isn’t team #1, politics, silos and turf wars emerge and organizational success becomes increasingly more difficult to achieve.