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September 15 , 2009

Straight Talk Leadership Seminars: 19 Tips For Leading Those Who Don’t Have To Follow You


More is being asked of the 21st century organizational leader than was asked even in the late 90s. Financial belt-tightening is a continued reality, leaders must do more with less, but the problems and issues continue to get more complex. Moreover, leaders are required to work in increasingly complex environments of matrix organizations and where key functions are performed by third-party providers. Challenges for leaders will only get tougher and more complex.

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One area in which leaders will continually find challenges is the leading and inspiring of employees who don’t organizationally report to the leader. Whether the situation exists in matrix organizations, multi-company initiatives, or cross-departmental projects, the leader will need to operate out of influence in driving others to produce a desired result as opposed to relying on the phrase, “because I’m the boss.”

Before we get too deep, let’s put the concept of “leading those who don’t have to follow” in context. Throughout this action guide, I will use an example of a team comprised of members from different departments thrown together under a team leader to solve an organizational problem. The example possesses the following characteristics:

- There is a mandate established by an organizational manager to accomplish something which requires team members from multiple departments within the organization to get it done.
- A team leader is appointed and held accountable for driving a team to meet the mandate.
- The team leader may be part of the organization or an organizational outsider.
- Either some or all of the team members do not organizationally report to the team leader.
- Team members are not required to follow the team leader; if the team leader doesn’t prove himself to the team, the members can choose to follow or not follow.
- Team members and the team leader may or may not know much about each other’s departments.
- Once the mandate is met, the team members will go back to their home departments and the team will disperse.

This Self-Study Seminar focuses on five tried-and-true techniques a team leader can implement to help a disparate team align behind a mandate and follow a leader, not because the team has to follow the leader, but because the team wants to follow the leader. I have succeeded many times using these techniques, and have failed a number of times because I didn’t use the techniques to drive my team. My sincere hope is that you are able to use the experience in this Self-Study Seminar to lead your cross-organizational teams and drive success in your organization.

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