Whether you are the CEO, a product manager, a team leader, or an individual contributor, I have found the most successful individuals are those that actively and sincerely solicit input, help and ideas from others in their organizations. Now, this is not the proverbial “obligated ask” – I am referring to those individuals that seek out and get additional heads and hands on board with their initiatives. This takes time, effort, patience and a true desire to BUILD A TEAM from all levels of the organization. Many attempt to do this, perhaps because they have been told they “need to.” However, the leaders who master the art of true inclusiveness will build a network which will become a tremendous asset in their careers if done with purity of intention. A few tips:
- Reach up, across and below to build your extended team. It is not enough to reach out to those who think like you do. It is imperative to reach out, truly meet others where they are and listen to what they have to offer, learn from it, and integrate it into your approach. There is no room for ego. If others do not “get” you, look in the mirror and make sure you are making every effort to “get” them.
- Create opportunities for others who are not on your immediate team to connect with you. This means that you become more accessible. Go to their areas in the building. Go to their offices, lunch rooms, and even offer to actually walk through the manufacturing line, or go out in the field with them to meet with their customers. You will be amazed at what you may learn through another set of eyes and ears; not to mention the bridge you will build with the other person.
- Have open-door “town halls,” district meetings, brainstorming sessions – and do not limit it to those in your organization or on your team. Go deep and broad – and give them an active role in the meeting. Ask for input, their first impressions and their “Devil’s advocate” perspective. The contrary viewpoint can often open tremendous creative thinking on how to address an issue or obstacle in the market.
- Be vulnerable. We do not ever have all the answers; and as leaders it is silly to act as if we do. Admit what you don’t know – or are not sure of. Even if you may think you know it all, keep quiet. Ask questions. Be open. It will be fun to hear what others have to offer – and it will be amazing how this small action will open the door to being truly productive and building an inclusive partnership.
- Be grateful – sincerely grateful. Give credit openly and often – where credit is due. Then GIVE back way more than you ever take from others. It will always come back tenfold.
There is no faking the art of inclusiveness. Folks can tell an obligatory “so, what do you think?” a mile away. So, lower the defensiveness. Realize all that we don’t know, and ask for help from others. When we are asked our opinion, and then having someone really listen to what we have to say, can be the magic key that opens the door to truly powerful partnering across silos, departments and within teams which find themselves at odds. Give it a try!