As we heard at the ILTA 2011 conference, in order to deliver your goals effectively you must include most (if not all) of the support functions within the firm. Now more than ever, integration between different administrative groups is essential for a firm to be agile, cost effective and client focused. How do you achieve this?, You achieve this by understanding the stakes, gaining support of management and sharing the vision. All of this falls under the heading of improved communication. Without effective and constant communication within and between departments, skepticism and distrust become the enemy. However, it also takes a shift in the mindset of all involved. To really deliver on this, we need leaders, and not just leaders at the top.
Understanding the Stakes. If you do not understand how your business works, you are not a leader. Understanding how your business works includes not only how different practice areas function, but also how Library Services provides business intelligence or how Finance provides metrics on overhead allocations. You need to understand what Professional Development and Recruiting are doing, why Human Resources is so afraid of social networking and how Marketing is working to improve your firm’s brand. You need to understand why this is important and what happens (the stakes) if your firm doesn’t deliver. In order to provide effective tools and changes, you need to understand the challenges each department faces. As a leader, you need to be seen as an ombudsmen for those various functions.
Management Support. I don’t care how effective each department is about communicating within and between departments, if your management doesn’t know about it, then for all intents and purposes it ain’t happening. You must include firm management in your efforts. This does not need to be a long process. We all know that firm management has a full plate and we shouldn’t be adding to that workload, but constant and effective communication must be part of your village growth plan.
Sharing the Vision. If you are not sharing your vision with your peers and coworkers, you are not leading. It is healthy for an organization or department to have differing approaches, thoughts and opinions, but an effective organization must have their goals aligned. Without this kind of alignment, much effort is spent keeping the train on the tracks.
In the end, everyone within the organization needs to act and think like a leader. If you can achieve this, you will have employees who are engaged, excited, effective and on the constant look out for fresh opportunities to lead.
It takes a village to deliver, it takes a leader to make a difference.