META LEADERSHIP ACROSS ORGANIZATIONS
The expansive leader cultivates many dimensions: an eagle’s ability to
soar over a landscape while discerning important particulars, a
beaver’s industriousness about follow up and accountability, and a
human knack for reflection and self-change. In this issue we explore
ways to expand the eagle dimension.
Eagles lead “beyond the walls.”
The eagle’s leadership dimension has been called “meta-leadership,”
that is, flying above one’s own organization high enough to see
problems that your organization alone cannot solve. Meta-leaders
connect people and ideas, as Leader to Leader Institute Chairwoman
Frances Hesselbein says, by “leading beyond the walls.” Collaborating
beyond the walls of your own organization requires discernment about
which elements of collaboration make it successful. When I assist with
collaborations, my first step is often to help collaborating partners
to identify where the partnership is along a continuum.
Briefly, the four points along this so-called “strategic alliance continuum” are:
- Cooperation, to share information and provide mutual support;
- Coordination, to undertake common tasks because you identify compatible goals;
- Collaboration, to achieve a collective purpose using integrated strategies;
- Coadunation, to merge, unite or operate under one organizational umbrella (adapted from Bailey & Koney, 2000).
Understanding and agreeing upon where you are on the continuum requires partners to clarify purposes and expectations,
and also face and reconcile differences that, left undiscussed, can
drive a wedge among you. Once you identify where you are on the
continuum, you need to make four sets of keystone agreements.
These four sets of agreements clarify:
- Who convenes the group;
- Who should be at the table and who kept informed;
- The degree to which, how, with whom and with what frequency the partners communicate;
- What decision-making processes you will use and who has input, who can recommend, and who is empowered to make decisions.
These keystone agreements address the how of the strategic alliance. Other agreements address the what: what your vision is, what you seek to achieve, what resources are needed, and so on. In my experience, what
partners seek to do together is the more obvious business of alliance
creation, but it will be stymied if the four agreements about how
to conduct the alliance are not solidified. Leaders of one alliance I
work with tell me it has achieved more in one year since setting the
four keystone agreements than in the previous decade of affiliation.
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Coaching and Process Consulting Overlap
I often work with leaders one-on-one. This coaching
builds on and derives from my approach to organizational development,
which is called “process consulting.” Edgar Schein, MIT Sloan School of
Management professor, the leading thinker in process consultation,
calls coaching “a subset of consultation” because both begin with
clients’ understanding of their challenges, needs and desires for
Read more at http://coachingcommons.org/hall-of/fame/edgar-schein-process-consultant-or-coach/
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a collaboration or strategic alliance, “the roles and responsibilities
of each party must be very clear...Because the partnership is a whole new
enterprise, it needs to be treated as a little start-up and allowed to
build the internal systems and structure that it needs...” (p. 46)
Frances Hesselbein et al.
Leading Beyond the Walls
See reading list on leadership at http://www.businessweek.com/ bschools/ books/ recommenders/ hesselbein.htm
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