Strong loyalty and commitment to your team is admirable, but be careful not to let it isolate you from the rest of the organisation.
Leaders who use expressions such as “I want to do something special for my team”, “my people are different”, “these customers belong to me”, or “those resources are only for my area”, risk creating an “us and them” position with other department heads adopting a similarly parochial stance.
This is a fine balance.
On one side you want to build strong bonds within your team, have them watch out for each other and pitch in and help each other with peak workloads.
They also want their manager to go into battle for them, protect their positions and fight for team resources.
On the other side is an obligation for the team members, and you in particular, to contribute positively to the whole organisation.
What can you do to support the efforts of others to make the whole organisation more successful?
To navigate this balancing act, you need to make a key decision.
Do you want to take a somewhat naïve position and consider the allocation of resources from a whole of organisation perspective, or adopt the more common and pragmatic position of securing the maximum number of resources for your team and releasing them back to the organisation at some point in the future if you decide you don’t need them all?
Option one risks you missing out and being seen as ineffective by your team, whilst option two perpetuates the silos that exist in most organisations with department heads competing with each other for scarce resources.
A whole of organisation approach is the only one with any long-term benefits.
You can address the issue of the perception of your staff through open conversations about the reasons for your approach.
A healthy, robust debate with your managerial colleagues will help to ensure resources are allocated to the areas in most need or which will have the most positive impact on organisational objectives.
Success from this approach builds a more positive and productive working environment.
The “grab as much as you can” approach is self-perpetuating as each year managers of business units adopt new tactics in an attempt to deny other departments access to resources or to gain favour for their own cause.
This is clearly destructive behaviour.
One small step in the next 24 hours
Take pre-emptive action many months prior to the next session where resources are allocated or budgets set.
Provoke a conversation about how to better allocate resources that are in the best interests of the whole organisation.
Expose and discuss the sometimes self-centred approach that has been adopted in the past.
Within your own team, openly ask what your staff could do to assist other areas or make a bigger contribution to the whole organisation.
By role modelling this whole of organisation approach, you provide a forum for other departments to seek ways to support your team, and again make a contribution to the wider organisation.