Friday, April 5, 2013

The Cross Functional Team Leader

The cross functional team leader.  Now more than ever in business team leadership is required across the whole spectrum of the organization, from the customer through the supply chain and back to the customer again.  Team leadership has to understand the decision drivers along this continuum.  Leaner, Flatter Organizational Structures of today's top businesses calls for team leadership that is in touch across the whole organization.

So how do you find people with this skill set?

Start by looking for people with a broad experience across multiple departments.  This person would have worn many different hats throughout his or her career.  Look for someone that hasn't been focused on one area.  Yes the generalist is the best way to describe this person.  This goes against the prevailing wisdom of the last few decades that encouraged professionals to focus or shall we say specialize in a single field of experience.
A person most likely to have these skills is a person who has come up through the ranks in an organization, served in multiple different departments and risen to a leadership rank.

The wise organization fosters these types of people, finds adept candidates and creates the Generalist through a deliberate effort.  For example, take a star performer in Production Operations and have them spend time in the Sales Support department.  Take a star Sales performer and have them spend time in procurement and production planning.  Engineering person spending time in Sales and then time in Purchasing etc.. This creates the cross functional awareness that is so important in business today.

My own experience mirrors this concept and I found that wearing many different hats throughout my career to be vitally important when it came time to manage my own company.  Nothing could replace the broad view of the whole organization when it came time to make key decisions.

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