One of my family members was recently diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and we were discussing how important it is for her to lean on her tribe. Tragedy can show you there are people in your corner that you never might have previously realized…unfortunately the opposite is also true. You can find out that someone you thought was a part of your inner support circle, wasn’t really up for that role.
Conversations like this have a tendency of causing you to reflect on many things in your own life. After many other personal and professional reflections, this conversation eventually had me thinking about the many external team members that have supported organizations that I have been a part of in my past. It also made me think about just how valuable it is to build a strong external team. Successful leaders spend a substantial amount of their time building and maintain high performing teams, internal teams. People are the most important asset any organization can have so it only makes sense that a significant amount of time is invested in them. But what about the amount of time invested in building your external team? Do leaders spend the appropriate amount of time vetting and maintaining a high performing external team? By external team, I mean the professionals that support your organization through services, software and products but are not employed by the organization.
Your corporate attorney, auditor and/or CPA, your employment attorney, marketing agency, recruiting agency, insurance broker, payroll company, IT solutions, business consultants, outside trainers, the list could go on depending on the size, scope and industry of your organization. The key is remembering that all of the people that service or support your organization are also a part of your team and require management and leadership.
When I was brought into one organization as the CEO, they were in the middle of a legal battle that was portrayed to be insignificant in both financial consequence and the amount of time to be invested to the matter. I quickly found out both of these things were not exactly accurate. More importantly I also learned that the organization was using an attorney because that attorney was “who they always used”. The unfortunate truth is that the size and scope of the matter had outgrown the expertise of this attorney. That error cost the organization considerably. I am not implying that a member of your external team who has always been good to you can’t continue to be a solid member of your team. I am saying that you need to continually invest the time to reassess your external team to ensure that the level of service/products you needed yesterday versus what you need today and will need in the future will continue to be met by your external team members.
A great external team can be a true difference maker for your organization. The right IT solutions can ease frustrations, increase efficiencies and even contribute to greater work-life balance for your employees. A professional recruiting agency can reduce your stress by having candidates discreetly lined up and ready to meet with you when you need to make that important staffing decision. Your corporate attorney, regulatory attorney and cloud-based IT solutions could be the concoction that finally helps you sleep better at night knowing you have all the proper regulatory and safety precautions to protect your organization. And if you live in any of the states (like NJ) with ever-changing employment laws, your labor attorney might quickly be a person you keep on speed-dial!
Your external team is an extension of your organization. Make sure that team is properly staffed with all the right players!