How to Improve your Organizational Awareness
How to Improve your Organizational Awareness
Even before Covid-19 changed the world of work forever, leaders and managers were already having to be far more multi-skilled in order to cope with the increasingly VUCA world. The global pandemic has accentuated the need for agile leaders, who are able to cope well with crises, delegate much of the fire-fighting and still find time to be strategic.
It’s no longer adequate for a leader to be a technical expert in his/her field - a more rounded and authentic leadership style is necessary to deal with the complex challenges of the current business environment and to manage multiple diverse stakeholders and customers. Many of the required leadership competencies and behaviours include the ‘softer skills’, such as emotional intelligence, which encompasses organizational and cross-functional awareness.
But what is organizational awareness how can you improve yours?
Being organizationally aware involves being cognizant of the internal politics and informal networks that make the company tick, as well as being sensitive to the emotional relationships of the company and the ever-changing dynamics. In todays’ remote workplace it is even more important for leaders to have a high internal profile, building strong working relationships and support networks across different functions and teams, often across the globe. Trying to increase communication levels to remote teams is a challenge, but some leaders are coping well in leading change and making the tough calls necessary for business survival. An added bonus for a leader is having had experience of working cross-functionally and internationally, in order to have a broader knowledge, be adaptable to other cultures and be aware of the impact of their own specific working style.
Years ago, career progression was often regarded as the responsibility of Management and HR, whereas nowadays, employees and managers are more likely to carve out their own career paths, therefore being organizationally aware can be a prerequisite for significant promotion. Creating time to think strategically and plan future career moves, as well as delivering the business plan, can also be key to leadership success. However, identifying and navigating internal politics and dealing with a wide range of personality types can be a challenge, especially for newly promoted leaders.
This is where Executive Business Coaching can provide an objective and confidential sounding board for leaders and managers to identify challenges, opportunities, and potential threats within the business, as well as helping to create a plan to develop organizational awareness and build external networks. ‘Walking the floor’ used to be another effective way to sense check what was really happening within an organization, and at the same time enabled leaders to understand how the company culture was evolving, who the key players really were, and who was making the important decisions. With recurring lockdowns and most sectors working remotely, the ability to raise your profile and increase your network has become more of a challenge. Here is where a 360 Feedback Review can also be highly successful in understanding how leadership style and behaviours, as well as the organization and team, are viewed by direct reports, other managers, peers and even customers.
So, how else can an aspiring manager or leader build their organizational awareness?
Here are some of the recommendations we make during our Executive Coaching and Mentoring or Career Coaching Programmes when developing global leaders across many different functions in a wide range of sectors:
1. Ensure HR has a strategic role within the organization and provides regular relevant updates.
2. Have a robust strategy for Talent Management and Succession Planning, which can prevent game playing, favouritism, and any surprises or costly mistakes.
4. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date.
5. Spend time understanding where the key players are moving to across relevant functions and countries.
6. Ask to be Mentored by someone in another function or country in order to build a wider perspective.
7. Offer to work on projects in different areas.
8. Understand, communicate and live the company vision and values to build collaboration, drive innovation, and achieve results; then see who you are influencing the most and who is truly aligned with the vision and strategy.
9. Exhibit integrity and a natural style; keep to your promises.
10. Research the key influencers within your industry.
11. Understand the public image and true perception of your organization by asking your Marketing team to monitor social media and the press.
12. Understand the political, economic, social, and technological trends impacting your industry and be ready to be agile and/or disrupt.
When a leader has good organizational awareness, he/she can harness the appropriate collective strength of the company to deliver key strategic objectives, create growth and deliver customer excellence.
‘The 360 Feedback Review surpassed all of our expectations. We had some incorrect perceptions around how the leadership team was being viewed and what the key issues really were. The in-depth 360 reports, added to your insights, have been invaluable and have created significant ROI thank you.’ CEO
Stay safe, stay positive!