If you are a people leader, do you know who comprises your first team? In other words, who is the team that you need to look out for, defend, protect, align, and work together with, above all others? It is your team of direct reports, right?
The team you manage, the team that calls you their boss, is your second team. Your first team is that of your peers and the boss to whom you and your peers report. Think Team 1, Team 2.
How many times have you heard employees lament how your organization suffers from “silos,” slower than needed decision-making, missed opportunities for communication and coordination, and competing interests across business units? You aren’t alone – these are common complaints. Furthermore, they are signs of a breakdown in horizontal integration between different functions, which, by the way, are ultimately because of breakdowns in communication, coordination and sometimes trust, between leaders.
Now, imagine for a moment, that you and each of your peer managers had shared performance goals, agreement on key priorities and initiatives that will better the business unit or company as a whole, and strong agreements between one another about how each will support the other’s teams. Imagine what happens when peer managers make decisions together, knowing full well the trade-offs that must occur for overall results, and not worrying about who will individually win or lose. Imagine the success of the executive leader who supports, facilitates, and demands first team behavior from her team of peer managers.
Something magical happens. Alignment across the top facilitates smoother operations with the people below.
If you want to be the best boss, the wisest leader to your team, think of them second. When you put the time and energy into building relationships, trust, coalitions, shared goals and accountability with your peers, you enable the systems and the people doing the work below you to function in a much healthier and productive way.