Leading multi-functional teams can be exciting! As a leader, visionary dynamics begin to arise within as you recognize the potential for increased efficiencies, identify force multipliers and engage team leaders in collaborative discussions to increase overall effectiveness, accessibility, presence and reach.  As a leader, this is one of the best feelings you can experience. You’ve got the direction – now, to communicate it. Knowing your team, they will be eager to participate – right?

Synergy is defined as the interaction of elements that, when combined, produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements or their contributions; cooperative action.

As a director, you can make these visionary opportunities just as exciting for your team leaders as they are for you. Here’s how…

Create and Protect Synergy. Meet with your team leaders together, if possible, to start the process. Share the goal and prepare a presentation showing and telling them who is responsible for what and why.  Let this first meeting be a time of information sharing and answering of initial questions. Also, use this time to introduce your team leaders to one another. Stress the need for synergy among all in the room. They are all leaders and have a responsibility to protect the very thing that will keep them moving in a positive direction. Partner team leaders who will likely be collaborating (or have overlapping priorities) so they can engage in conversation about their roles and share contact information. Provide your team leaders with the presentation materials used during the meeting so they can meet with their team members to introduce and discuss the new direction.

Expand the Synergy Circle. Schedule time with each team leader individually, focusing on their specific areas of implementation and their team needs. They should bring any barriers (perceived or real) to light in this meeting so that you can provide insight and direction as needed. Their team meeting should be schedule so that you can attend (not to conduct – but to observe). You are a visible symbol of support for their team’s success and your presence demonstrates your accessibility to their leader.

Arrive a few minutes early for each team meeting so that you are able to greet all who attend beforehand. Again, your early/on-time presence sets an expectation for others and further cement your support for the team leader. Listen intently to the presentation (with a friendly demeanor) – not for content (which you have provided) – but for tone, inflection and inference. Make sure that the team leader is conveying the “spirit” of the message as well as the information. If you have communicated to well, the message will delivered with clarity and ooze synergy. Interjection from you should only occur if the team leader is veering off track; at which time you gently bring them back (a display of empathy as well as synergy). Otherwise, your positive presence and silent engagement will carry the weight needed to support the team leader as they engage with team members.

When team members recognize that they are part of something larger than themselves, that they are not alone in the endeavor and that what they contribute to the goal is vital across teams, cooperative action is fueled and synergy is embraced. It isn’t hype or emotion… Perspectives change. Team members begin to see their role as a piece of the larger puzzle and not a mere task to be performed. The connections between teams become meaningful rather than just names on an org chart. Their value to the organization grows and productivity increases as they embrace the greater responsibility of maintaining for synergy.

Keep Synergy in the Forefront.  Nothing destroys the effects of synergy faster than isolationism. Some organizations call this the silo effect – when a team or any of it’s members are separated (either by proximity or perception) from the common goal. This separation creates space (real and imagined); and since nature abhors a vacuum, the space is filled with things like misconception, miscommunication, mistrust and rumors; all of which, if left unchecked, gradually dismantle synergy. Genuine relationship is the strength of synergy and is key to keeping isolationism from unraveling your good work.

Organizational goals will change, succeed and even fail – but your teams can be among the healthiest and most productive if synergy is kept in the forefront. Engage in meaningful communication with your team leaders regularly; not just to check boxes for goals that are in process but, to join your strengths and experience with theirs in monitoring the pulse of the teams they lead. Lead them… and they will learn to lead. Ensure that team members and leaders are communicating regularly with other team members and leaders. These acts of engagement not only create accountability, but serve to continually nurture synergy – through mutual respect for and acknowledgement of each team’s contribution to the organization.

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