Technological advances and pervasive use of the Internet influence every aspect of business operations. While keeping pace is a daunting task, you have a secret weapon all around you.
Businesses operating at warp speed can create the ideal environment and opportunity to cultivate dynamic business leaders-and vastly upgrade overall leadership. In successful ones, functional silos have been smart-bombed by the one weapon giving them the ability to exploit change and stay ahead of the pack.
It's executive collaboration, and now is the best time to see your organization follow suit.
When we learn together how to better share new information and knowledge, we are collaborating-and quickly adopting a single, unified vision of business strategy and success. Melding functional business perspectives offers competitive advantages too.
Companies that embrace executive collaboration are renowned for executive teams that:
- Share similar priorities
- Jointly understand what's critical that needs to be accomplished
- Move as one and in the same direction
- Mutually gain a broader, more comprehensive view of the needs of their customers
- Better position their organizations for growth and speed, despite a shifting marketplace
- Develop bigger breakthrough innovations.
My company-offering a vertical search capability for the industrial community-embraces a business strategy and leadership approach emphasizing executive collaboration over functional control.
There's little doubt that a true collaborative spirit among your executive group must include all areas of the business: sales, marketing, IT, customer service, human resources, operations, finance and more. Happily, we've benefited from integration across all of our functional areas.
So exactly how do you achieve superior executive collaboration?
From my experience, here are eight rules to help your leaders understand a successful model:
- Get grounded on a singular point of view: that your team's focus must be meeting the needs of the customer and helping each one of them attain stated goals. No "yes, but" people are allowed. No personal or hidden agendas. No compromises.
- Seize executive ownership. For example, guarantee that what marketing learns about customer needs is intelligence that's known and used by everyone in the business to create a better customer experience.
- Anticipate customer needs lying beyond your ordinary response to their expressed need. The executive team must focus on "what's possible" before customers do.
- Agree that there's no playbook to follow. Your group must invent it and re-invent it as you go. Collaborating on key priorities will drive business success no matter how fast the marketplace is changing.
- Be fast. In communicating. In responding. In achieving improvements. In measuring.
- Be fluid. Cross-communication is the key to better collaboration. Remember that silos are for barnyards, not businesses.
- Be flexible. If one or more of your executives has a better idea to improve collaboration than is being practiced, forget egos. Build the better mousetrap.
- Be focused. Consider creating cross-functional teams with responsibility to carry executive collaboration into the organization-on a focused track.
One more point: If yours is a small company wanting to accelerate growth or a larger one struggling with staying agile, taking a more collaborative approach to executive leadership creates a whole that's much greater than the sum of its parts.
Bring your organization's best talents and experiences to bear. Doing so, you will enjoy an unmatched level of collaboration and stay on the right track to success in today's rapidly changing business environment.
Angela Hribar is Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of GlobalSpec, Inc., the leading specialized vertical search, information services and e-publishing company serving the engineering, technical and industrial communities. She has more than 25 years of experience in marketing, sales, business development and operations management, and is an expert in building and facilitating a collaborative environment across cross-functional executive teams.