A MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHORS
the topic of this month, The High-Level
Clique and next month's When You're the Outsider,
we're starting to sound like an after school special.
Yes, sometimes being in the office does make us feel
and act like adolescents. But in this article we're
talking about a clique based on organizational behavior,
not personal whims.
you're in the Boston area, you're invited to hear Rob
speak at the Calkins Advisors Power Breakfast, part
of a series of forums for senior executives to find
new opportunities and build new relationships.
Date: October 14, 2003
Time: 7:30 AM networking/breakfast,
8:00 presentation, 8:50 Q & A, 9:15 closing remarks
Cost: $50 includes breakfast, presentation,
and a copy of The Trusted Leader
Where: Doubletree Guest Suites, Waltham
To Register: call 508-435-1036
forward this newsletter to your colleagues and friends
who are interested in organizational and leadership
issues. Your feedback is always welcome at email@example.com
-Rob and Anne-
Grudge from the Past
Surviving the Porcupine
of Trust & Leadership archives
month's serving of Dim Sum: When You're the Outsider
LEADERSHIP DIM SUM, PART
VI: THE HIGH-LEVEL CLIQUE
group at the top of your organization works extremely well
together. It’s a tight team. Perhaps too tight. Somebody
levels with you and says that people find the group way too
insular, too much of a clique, apparently unwelcome to ideas
brought forth by those not in the inner circle.
to think about: Can a group be too tight? Can that closeness
hurt the organization in any way? Should others be brought
into the inner circle to pacify the folks who are concerned?
are numerous advantages to having a close-knit group of people
at the top of an organization. Synergy. Momentum. Speed of
decision-making. Ease of conflict resolution. Good humor.
At the same time though, as Tom Valerio of CIGNA says, such
a tight group can end up “selling each other hats”
— thinking that the ideas they generate are great, but
not putting them through the requisite checks and balances.
“That’s a lovely hat you have on.” “No,
yours is equally lovely.” “No, yours is truly
better.” “No, yours is really superior.”
In other words, they run the risk of being so attuned to one
another, and doing so much thinking in sync that they lose
has lived this situation. And, as she puts it, “It’s
hard to resist the temptation simply to relax and enjoy the
trust and closeness. It makes it great to go to work each
day, knowing that you’re aligned with your colleagues.
The problem is that being so insular can distance the group
from the realities of the organization at large.”
others into the inner circle can help in cases like this.
But there has to be a meaningful business reason for them
to be there — something definite that they can contribute.
Otherwise, they’ll have a hard time breaking in —
even if the group understands the situation and wants to help.
better approach might be to create another inner circle that
intersects with the one in question. Or at least to broaden
the group’s perspective (and connections with the organization
at large) by deliberately building bridges to different parts
of the company. Encourage them to call on a regular group
of people outside the circle to offer their expertise and
informed opinions on a variety of issues.
top executive we know of — a member of just such an
insular group — created his own advisory board, independent
of the circle, to try to ensure that he was more attuned to
the perspectives of those outside “the circle.”
He encouraged the others at the top to do the same. It was
an effective maneuver.
about you? Have you ever found yourself faced with a clique
that insulated those at the top of your organization? How
did you deal with it? Let
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