In order to continue advancing quickly, you will, at times, need the diverse skills and political currency of other people.
No one is good at everything.
Fortunately, you have already achieved individual success, because the big players will only engage if you have a name they recognize and an established reputation. Now, you're ready to bring together diverse people and utilize their differences for positive change.
Yes, I know, I know.
'I work best with people who are more like me.'
'I'm not good at managing a group.'
'I prefer working on my own.'
You can argue the virtues of individual vs. group work through your whole career. But if you really want to experience the big wins, you must involve others in bringing about your big idea.
Tips to consider when bringing people together:
1) Five people on a team is perfect. Involve others as needed, but keep your core group small.
2) Include as least one Big Player. In my field of health care, this would be an influential medical director or perhaps our system's most successful CEO. This person should have a broad sphere of influence in your organization.
3) Make sure one member of your group is a gifted detail person that can effectively coordinate your project and keep everything on track. Someone has to schedule meetings, book travel, deal with media and handle catering and technical needs. That should never be you.
4) Identify the person in the organization you consider your greatest competition. Is it the charismatic, effective guy that owns every room and that you fear might be a bit smarter than you? Make him part of your team.
5) One group member should be a front line employee that deals directly with your customers. They will be fulfilling the day-to-day work of your idea, so listen to them and learn. Make sure your idea is compatible with their processes. Otherwise, you risk failing when it comes time to put your plan into place.
6) Communicate clearly with your group so they know the boundaries when it comes to decision making. Give them opportunities to shine, and also emphasize that you will be making final decisions or presenting ideas to final decision makers. Spell it out from the beginning and this will reduce the time you spend managing group conflict. Never assume they know this.
7) Prepare to manage group conflict. Passionate, intelligent people will jockey for position, try to control the process and occasionally tattle on each other. Realize this is typical of group dynamics, and remember that, if managed well, conflict is the path to brilliance.
8) When someone acknowledges the success of your endeavor, make sure the first words out of your mouth are, 'thank you.' Second, acknowledge your team. Own the fact that the idea, and the process, was designed and lead by you.
Unforeseen Challenge: Sometimes, even the brightest people will behave like they're in grade school and want you to be their mother. And if you choose not to take on the role of nurturer and resolver of all petty disputes, you might be accused of 'not dealing with the problem.' Caving in to this pressure will cause two things to happen. One, your group members will stop trying to work out their own differences because you have assumed this responsibility. Two, disputes will actually increase and you will spend a huge chunk of your valuable time attempting to resolve them. Certainly, I'm not suggesting you ignore serious matters of ethics or policy violation. However, most group conflict is based on personality differences, and here, your role should be minimal. After you listen supportively to one group member's complaints about another (she's loud, she's controlling and everyone else in the group thinks so, too...), you might try borrowing my favorite line: 'I'll look forward to hearing how you resolve this issue with her.' This response places the accountability where it belongs, sets your expectation of the outcome, and allows you to continue moving forward.
Bringing the right people together at the right time can achieve amazing results. Be honest with yourself about the skills you possess and the strengths you need to gather from others. Commit to staying grounded and focused, no matter what. Then put your dream team together and utilize their differences to accomplish your goal. Everybody wins and your career will leap to new heights that surprise even you.
Image from robertfagan.com