I’d like to return to an earlier topic we covered, multi-domain leadership (MDL). In earlier blogs, we describe what MDL is, the benefits of it, and the value of enrichment by applying what you learn and experience in your work, social, or community domain to another. But organizations can also encourage MDL by thinking through the different “silos” that come to exist and motivating workers to look beyond their current departments.
I recently had the pleasure of facilitating a leader identity training for an organization in the midst of a restructuring. Employees who were used to dealing with procedures and stakeholders in one manner were now being asked to change their outlook and adapt to different processes, customers, and co-workers. They were being forced to integrate their identities into a new, larger domain. It reminded me that we all, at some point, need to integrate our skill sets away from one specific functional area into a larger organizational view. When we do that, we need to look up from the work in front of us and interact with co-workers from other departments. Anyone interested in upward mobility in an organization must keep an eye on how they can attain different skills sets to continue to be successful as they get promoted. Managing people or projects requires individuals to move beyond their functional or technical skills to include people skills, budgeting expertise, or general oversight of how departments interact in a larger organization.
So, how does one gain these other experiences? The advice is similar to how we recommend enhancing leadership skills –by looking for opportunities that allow cross-pollination of ideas and by choosing to open up the landscape to which you are exposed. Does your organization have training programs for different skills sets? Is there a mentor in a different department that you can tap to allow you to learn and experience different approaches? Are there outside resources that you can leverage to gain necessary skills? One does not become a partner in a law firm, an accounting firm, a manager in a financial institution, a founder of a start-up, or a leader in an educational institution without obtaining different skills sets such as sales, fund-raising, people management, or creating a business plan. Even within the work domain, MDL can enhance your success by encouraging you to integrate new and appropriate behaviors to enable career progress. Good luck!