Lead diverse and collaborative teams  

Leadership Competencies

An organization needs a well defined set of leadership competencies, which it can share with their employees at all levels in terms of expectations. All roles need to demonstrate leadership, but not all leadership competencies are required by all roles. The level and intensity of leadership will change depending upon if you are demonstrating the same at individual level vs. managerial level vs. strategic level.

Lead diverse and collaborative teams

This leadership competency points to an ability to work in diverse cultures, contexts, organization structures and skill-levels. It points to an ability to work with internal and external teams working across different locations, time zones and HR policies. This ability makes a leader adaptive to changes in the working environment.

Demonstrating at Individual Level                   

  • Understands the letter and spirit of organizations norms and policies: A leader at an individual level will have full grasp of all policies and generic procedures of the company. He will also be aware of any differences in the policies due to specific locations.
  • Understands how his/her work assignment affects others in the organization: A leader will have complete grasp of the stakeholder matrix related to his work. This includes the 360 degree stakeholders, which will include the external or internal customers, people who are expected to be delivering to you, and the stakeholders who are impacted due to change made by you. A leader is expected to connect to the stakeholders and ensure an expectations match.
  • Shows energy and enthusiasm for working with others from a wide variety of backgrounds, cultures, etc.: Energy and enthusiasm are contagious. A leader will maintain the level of energies to be a role-model for the others and maintain a positive and optimistic environment.
  • Seeks out the diverse perspectives and talents of others to accomplish objectives: A good leader will not be a 'solo hero', but more being part of a 'multi-starrer'. He will solicit and leverage the skills of the team. He will not re-invent the wheel and encourage the best person to do the best job. He will understand his own weaknesses and will be getting the same compensated by leveraging upon other's expertise. This approach will need a leader who feels secure and believes in team-work.
  • Develops effective working relationship by honoring commitments: The credibility and reliability is taken as given for good leaders. A leader should be known as 'person of his words'. This does not mean that a leader has to be risk-averse and should not take risks. However, largely a leader should make his commitments fulfilled by 'making it happen'.

Demonstrating at Managerial Level

  • Helps others understand on how to navigate the organizational culture: Fixed and steel-cage hierarchies are fast loosing their relevance. If one has to make it happen, one has to learn on how to influence and engage people. A leader will guide his team to understand on how important it is to be able to navigate and also on how to navigate.
  • Advises others on formal and informal organization structures: Tools of engagement and influence rely not only on formal organization structure but also on the informal power structures. A leader will advise his team on the defined organization landscape as well as the informal power structures and informal influencers and decision-makers. A leader makes the team understand that influencing and engaging through informal channels is not a political manipulation, but a leadership ability to work on all the players who can make it happen in an ethical way.
  • Builds effective working relationships with the decision makers: A leader understands on who are those 5-10 key decision makers, movers & shakers who he has to keep engaged and in a receptive mode. This means that he has to cultivate a relationship of trust and credibility with these key people to ensure a long-term effectiveness.
  • Coaches others in building effective team relationships: A leader understands the results come out of a collective effort and keeping the joins and linkages of a machine well-lubricated is more than half the work done. A leader invests a lot of energy on building good team-spirit and a collaborative environment. The areas where a leader works on with his team are:
    • Building relationships through effectively managing conflict. Each conflict is an opportunity.
    • Building a relationship of trust and honesty.
    • Building relationship through open and clear communications
    • Building relationship through identifying and engaging all the stakeholders...
  • Builds a diverse team through hiring, development, and deployment: A whole section can be written on how to promote and build diversity. In-brief, a leader understands that diversity is not only meant to meet HR targets, but it truly adds value in terms of richness of ideas, and in making a holistic skill-base. A leader does not hire and develop diversity for the sake of it. However, he does promote it, when other things are equal. A leader also does not tag or stereotypes (like ladies can think more laterally...), but goes by the competency based evaluation and the track-record. A leader understands that he needs to build a team which is complementing each-other to provide a comprehensive skill-inventory.
  • Capitalizes on the diverse perspectives and talents of the whole team in accomplishing objectives: A leader makes the best person do the best job. A leader will have a full account of all the talents and skills of his team. A leader works on getting the best value out of this inventory. A leader understands that an employee gets motivated, when he is given an opportunity to do what he is good at.

Now let's look at the other point of view, which may seem conflicting, but it is not. The view is that by letting people do what they are good it, we are stifling the development of the team.  We are not letting people learn by doing things which they are not good at. By putting best man on the job, will make us risk-averse and non-enterprising. The answer to this view is that the first job of the leader is to leverage the existing capabilities and provide that professional fulfillment to their employees. After this, one can let people learn new things. Therefore it is not either and or, but a question of sequence.

  • Encourages others to stay open to, seek, and learn from diverse perspectives and feedback: A leader not only builds diversity of skills, ideas and profiles, but also encourages others to develop the same mind-set. A leader encourages people to respect and promote diversity. He encourages people to be good listeners, solicit feedback and get a wider set of views. He makes people understand that involving more people into thinking process is not a time overload, if done smartly.
  • Engages the participation of all team members by motivating them to work toward common goals: A leader makes his team understand, that all the engines have to fire in the same direction to get the maximum boost. He ensures that people work with a sense of 'collective effort, collective goals and collective ownership'. He will constantly watch to fine-tune the efforts and direction of his employee for a well-synchronized effort.

Demonstrating at Strategic Level

  • Ensures that the organizational culture supports business objectives: When we say culture here, we do not mean the value systems. Culture here means that work-culture. Different organizations, situations and business objectives will need different work-cultures. We disagree that an organization should have a single work-culture. A risk and Audit department will have a different work-culture compared to creative team responsible for product promotions.

A leader works on building the work-culture which is best aligned to the business objectives. For example consolidation (risk-averse, ruthless on expenses...) objectives will need a different work-culture compared to fast-expansion (more risk-taking, and ready to bear the cost of speed...).

  • Seeks to build and develop team capabilities throughout the organization: This includes the increasing the range of capabilities (width) and developing more depth in the same capabilities. A leader will have a holistic map of the capabilities needed to achieve the business objectives.  He will systematically nurture the hiring, training, development practices which help to achieve the required leadership and expertise inventory. He will also work on making sure that the critical skills are available more than what is needed for an effective back-up. He will build the competencies not only for current needs, but for a longer term perspective as well. He will create a culture and work-environment which attracts the required talent. He will sponsor initiatives that facilitate selection, development, and deployment of people from diverse backgrounds or with diverse skills and approaches
  • Champions complex and cross-organizational initiatives which provide strategic value: Sometimes the initiatives have a great strategic value but they demand highly cross-functional and seamless interaction across organization silos. A leader will not get bogged down by the complexity and effort needed to handle this complexity. He will take charge and work on breaking barriers and create natural teams. He will work with heads of silos to take a collective view and encourage their teams to work towards common goals. He will push relentlessly on making the old habits change and address the apprehensions related to turf issues.
  • Creates organizational culture and processes that enable cross functional teamwork and development of cooperative relationships: A leader hires leaders who have a cross-functional view and who would permeate a culture of collective ownership of organizational results and destiny. He will create the processes, which not only provide the incentives at individual levels but also at the team level. He will create an environment, whereby people's success is linked the success of their teams.