Breaking Down Walls

It amazes me how often leaders fail to act on an important issue if it requires them to engage those outside their immediate area of responsibility.

You’ve probably heard the term “siloed.”  It describes organizations that have limited flow across departmental boundaries. These organizations often display compartmentalized excellence that nonetheless adds up to less than the sum of its departmental parts. Two plus two equals three, so to speak.

But in today’s complex business environment, isn’t it essential that managers work together, across boundaries, to solve problems, create efficiencies, and seize opportunities?

Most often there’s no formal, structural, or logistical reason for the failure of cross-department communication.  A lack of shared vision between departments might partly explain it — but much of it points directly to weak relationships between department heads.

Too many leaders are too respectful of others’ turf.  Often, it’s either because

  • the relationship between managers is too fragile, or
  • the manager’s own ego is too fragile (“I wouldn’t want Bob pushing his way into my department, so I won’t push my way into his.”)

Either way, the depth and quality of relationships between managers suffers.  Thus the openness and cooperation needed to solve complex multi-stakeholder challenges never develops.  And the organization suffers.

The importance of mature, open, committed relationships in the business world is consistently underrated.  Relationships of trust, honesty, and consistency are critical — across departmental  boundaries — for 21st-Century organizations to thrive.

YOUR PATH FORWARD:  On the first workday of every month, take 3 minutes to ask yourself:

  • What do I wish were different in my organization — beyond the responsibilities of my team, but impacting the responsibilities of my team?
  • What influence could I potentially wield in creating change in this arena?
  • What keeps me from attempting to wield that influence?
  • What could I do — whom would I need to connect with — to begin to wield that positive influence?

About the Author

Jim Hessler
Jim Hessler bootstrapped his way from retail work into a successful career as salesman, sales manager, Fortune 500 executive, and corporate turnaround engineer. Along the way, he developed The Leadership Platform, a proven model for training managers to become sustainably better leaders. It became the basis of his leadership primer, Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guild to Building Your Leadership Platform. Jim is the founder of Path Forward Leadership Development Services.

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