My Way Is The Highway
What's So Super About
Dave Farrell Responds:
A brief answer to Amy’s simple yet frequently vexing question is: “Make sure that they truly are interdependent.” Unless they are, efforts to help them see themselves that way are doomed to failure. When members of an executive team are in fact interdependent, much can then be done to build on that relationship so that, not only do they feel interdependent, they behave collaboratively, day-in and day-out.
Organizational Processes and
Where focus on the customer, continuous improvement or the integration of diverse functions into holistic systems is needed, a process-driven structure may be optimum. In this model, executives become “champions” or “owners” of entire processes, rather than bosses of functions. Their scope is broadened and they develop visibility for a major process within the organization from beginning to end. A key required skill is the ability to integrate diverse functions into effective systems—just the behavior your question seeks to produce.
In order to accomplish the objectives implicit in your question, the very process of re-examining the organization must be done collectively, involving the very people whose behavior you are seeking to change. In this way, their “team building” occurs in the context of a very real, very critical task, in which both the decisions reached and implementation must be collaborative.
Happily, the last decade has seen the evolution of a number of highly effective approaches to large-group collaborative decision making, organizational design and strategic planning processes. Today, we know how to bring 50, 100 or even 200 people together to produce very innovative solutions in a way that also maximizes personal involvement and commitment. It is possible then, to bring all the senior people together for this work, even in large organizations.
Personal Behavior and
There are those executives who simply don’t possess the skills to behave in the collaborative ways the new structures will require. They don’t know, for example, how to use empathy to get another’s point of view, how to use synergy to create a third alternative or how to create a win-win agreement. By gaining or developing additional skills, executives can open up a broader range of choices in their behavior. For these people, an investment in further personal development is a must. And since executive egos are a frequent barrier to continued education and learning, willingness to lead through example is essential.
An approach to develop the desired
behaviors would be to assign “real work”
projects that absolutely require collaboration between
specific members of the executive team, hold each of them
equally responsible for outcomes, then monitor both
results and behavior.
Those of us who desire to contribute to the field of managing and leading change must be willing to raise the level at which we practice our craft. All too often we take the “easy” route of working at the operational level of organizations, all the time knowing that lasting change must be managed and led from the boardroom and executive suite. That’s where the most challenging, and hence, rewarding work needs to be done.