You have been appointed as the leader of a new product development team. Your manager gives you the list of people who initially have been assigned to work with you as team members. The first thing that strikes you is that you only know a few people on the list. Second, the participants represent different business units you have never worked with before. Your manager explains that the organization has decided that a cross-functional team that includes a mix of different people and different functions will produce better results. She acknowledges the challenge of managing a group of people who have little experience in working together and, perhaps even more challenging, who report to different managers.
As you think about this new assignment, you have questions:
- What are the tangible advantages of collaboration among such a diverse group?
- What are the obstacles I will face, and how do I address them in a way that moves the team forward?
- What are the key tactics that I need to employ for the team to develop a new product that will both meet customer needs and support organizational goals?
- What are the specific skills and knowledge I need to acquire to be an effective cross-functional team leader?
As a team leader and a manager of team leaders, it is crucial that you understand the rationale for the ever-expanding dependence on cross-functional collaboration and the value it brings to the organization. In addition, because it has been well established that multidisciplinary teams are fraught with obstacles, it is important that you understand the barriers you will face and have a repertoire of tools to deal with them. The good news is that there is considerable experience available that you can draw upon to create and manage a successful team. Finally, because you will take on most of the responsibility for initiating the conditions that will help the team succeed, you will need to focus on developing your leadership capacity.
As you reflect on your ability to handle the new team leadership responsibility, consider how much you know about cross-functional collaboration, including both the opportunities and obstacles, and how well you are prepared to lead a diverse group of people with different skills sets, experiences, styles, and goals. The Accenture Academy course Maximizing Cross-Functional Team Performance will provide you with the specific knowledge of the advantages, barriers, strategies, and tools you need to be successful.