In this day and age, forming a partnership (whether formal or informal) between multiple entities toward a specific cause or goal is pretty much the norm. It’s easier and more efficient to conduct collaborative efforts that will maximize resources of an organization and/or a community to accomplish specific objectives. Most times, this collaboration should result in significant cost-savings, as well as an improved sense of teamwork stemming from bringing various groups together for a common cause. Due to ongoing budget cuts and funding restraints, it just makes sense to bond together with other similar entities that can move you forward in marking your spot and being successful in the implementation of new ideas and processes.
However, in my experience working with and trying to lead a group of partners toward a common goal is often very frustrating and challenging due to conflicting policies, different motives, misaligned performance goals, and a whole list of other variables. Being successful in moving your community partners forward to take action steps that can benefit the organization or community as a whole requires a unique combination of skills. There are four skills that have best served me in this role and have made a major impact on how well the group interacted and came together to make decisions. So, if you are charged with the responsibility of pulling a group of partners together to address a common issue, then keep these four skills in mind as you interact with the group members:
- Be Diplomatic – One of the most important aspects in dealing with other partner groups and/or representatives is to be tactful as you deal with individuals who all have diverse goals other than your own. Keeping a diplomatic relationship established will go far in negotiating a variety of issues, i.e., schedules, a memorandum of understanding, calendar items, meetings, events, etc. Conducting yourself in a polite manner as you employ tact is actually a strategic maneuver that requires a lot of thought and patience in order to arrive at mutually acceptable solutions. Learn this important art of diplomatic leadership.
- Be Organized – When dealing with multiple partner groups, it’s important to understand their mission and underlying goals. This will help you go far in building a single, cohesive workgroup from an array of partner agencies. Having information organized and presentable for all to understand will help the group move forward toward a common goal. Take time to learn names, backgrounds and interests of the group members. This information will assist you in developing a connection of respect and trust with your counterparts.
- Be Assertive – Just because it’s important to be diplomatic and polite, doesn’t mean you have to rollover and take whatever your partners give you. You must remain assertive so that the collaborative efforts of various partners will meet the specific goals outlined for the group. It’s all about give and take, of course…but it’s also important to keep the ‘big picture’ in front of the group at all times so that they do not slip back into their individual agency silos.
- Be Responsive – When working with a diverse group of people from different entities, it’s vital that you keep an open line of communication. But it’s even MORE critical that you actually respond to any and all questions, issues, concerns, etc. immediately. Being responsive will help make sure your message is concise and is understood by all group members, and it will send a strong signal that you are interested in their participation. So, replying to that e-mail or returning a phone call as soon as you can is a major aspect of keeping your group together and functioning.
As the saying goes…’practice makes perfect.’ So, the more you place yourself in the role of working with multiple individuals from different departments or organizations, the more you will be able to practice the four skills that will make a difference in how you are perceived as a leader. I challenge you to take a closer look at how you can become more diplomatic, organized, assertive and responsive with those you work with and search for ways you can improve upon these four skills. What other skills have you utilized to help in leading a group of diverse individuals? Take a few seconds to leave your comment below!! Also…you can find me on Twitter at @craigholloman – click to follow me today!!