In the previous two parts of this series, we discussed how operating in silos limits a team’s abilities to be more than the sum of its parts – a prerequisite if it is to stay ahead of its ever-changing environment. To do so, it is imperative that, amongst other things, members of the team wear their team cap as their primary cap rather than the cap of the area they may represent. Moreover, in order to develop greater collective leadership, a team leader needs to push down individual and collective accountability to team members. To be able to contextualise these three points better, please feel free to select the link/s to find the full versions of the first two parts. (https://mailchi.mp/26f525a12862/monday-memo-leadership-is-a-team-sport-part-1) (https://mailchi.mp/6fec9c570fcc/monday-memoleadership-is-a-team-sport-part-2)
Now that we have all the team members wearing their team cap, a necessary question to answer is: whom do we serve? During the course of this last week, I asked this very question during a lively and engaging workshop I was conducting with the leadership team of a South African subsidiary of an international company. Three views emerged: the shareholders, the customers, and the staff. That was the easy part. Then I asked them who their primary stakeholder was that they served. This was probably unfair, as we will see below. Nevertheless, that’s when it got really interesting. Obviously, a case can be made for each of them. At the same time, it’s a discussion worth having for the clarity it can bring since each of these, and other stakeholders, have different and conflicting demands on the team, so best we know how we rank these demands.
Ultimately, however, the answer to the question “whom do we serve?” is not a binary one, for we serve all our stakeholders. As such, with the team collectively wearing their team caps, the challenge is how we manage the paradox that all their respective conflicting demands present.
I believe that’s when a more important question needs to be asked: “What is in the best interests of the whole business?” When we are not clear that this is the question we should be asking, then we are likely to focus on one or other of the stakeholders, perhaps to the exclusion of others – and then, I am afraid, silos are hatched again! Beware the potential vicious circle!