Great teams always have a co-ordinator. Why? Getting creative people to combine their talents can be challenging at the best of times.
The co-ordinator’s role is to ensure people channel their talents towards achieving the team’s goal. Let’s see how this works in practice.
Clarity is vital. The leader’s role is to chart the way towards achieving the picture of success. The team member’s job is to clarify their best contribution and commit to achieving the goals. They must then do creative work, co-operate and achieve concrete results.
Sounds simple in theory. But things can go wrong, especially during the creative work stage. Strong co-ordination is vital, otherwise individuals may do their own thing.
“But isn’t that the leader’s job?” somebody may ask. Great leaders often follow the STAGE Model of leadership. This covers the following aspects of running a team.
Some leaders focus on the strategic and emotional leadership. They hire the right people to manage the tactics, administration and grunt work.
Great leaders have a co-ordinator who makes this happen, otherwise they get sucked down into fire-fighting. Let’s explore the key steps towards being a good co-ordinator.
You can establish clarity
Clarity is crucial if you are going to play the role successfully. Start by clarifying:
The leader’s specific goals – the picture of success.
The strategy for achieving the goals.
The leader’s role in reaching the goals and the role they want you to play as the co-ordinator.
Clarify the Dos and Don’ts involved in your role. Good leaders communicate your role to the team. People then know your areas of accountability, autonomy and authority.
Credibility is also crucial, especially in the eyes of the team members. Good co-ordinators gain credibility by:
Showing they respect the team members and their knowledge.
Showing they want to support people, rather than becoming a hindrance.
Showing some early successes – such as getting resources, removing obstacles or producing quick visible results.
Try tackling the exercise on this theme. Imagine a situation where you want to act as a good co-ordinator.
It’s vital that the team know what it is supposed to achieve. Describe the things you can do to establish clarity for the team. Try completing the following sentence.
You can do the co-ordination
Good co-ordinators ask questions such as:
“What are the real results we want to achieve? What is the picture of success? What are the resources available?
“What are each person’s strengths? Where do they deliver As, rather than Bs or Cs? How can we co-ordinate people’s strengths to achieve the goal? How can we put the right people in the right places to achieve the right results?
“What are the remaining tasks that are left over? How can we make sure these are done successfully?
“What support will people need to achieve success? How can I make clear contracts with them about their contribution towards achieving the goal?”
Good co-ordinators then make things happen. They are like good sheepdogs and ensure people work towards the agreed picture of success.
They are especially good with knowledge workers who may fall into following their own agenda. Approaching such a person, they say things like:
“Tell me how things are going. That is interesting. Now, remember the agreed picture of success. Is that something you still want to contribute towards achieving?
“If so, can you get back to me as to how you would like to continue contributing towards achieving the goals? Then I will provide the support you need. Great if you can get back to me within the next day.”
Like sheepdogs, they are friendly, but sometimes bare their teeth. They get away with it because the team members respect them and also know they can be tough.
Try tackling the exercise on this theme. Imagine a situation where you want to act as a good co-ordinator. Describe the things you can do to ensure the team is well co-ordinated.
You can deliver concrete results
Good co-ordinators get some early wins, rather than embark on long process analyses. Success breeds success. It also buys time to tackle the more long-standing challenges.
They see their role as proactive, rather than that of a glorified progress-chaser. So they build-in weekly meetings with the leader to look ahead to the next week, the month, the next quarter. They clarify the challenges facing the team and agree on the potential solutions.
“When it was first mentioned to me, I did not understand the role of the co-ordinator,” said one leader.
“Looking back at my earlier career, however, I realised my best work had been when I had someone who made things happen. They are now the first person I look for when taking over a new team. A good co-ordinator is worth their weight in gold.”
Try tackling the exercise on this theme. Imagine a situation where you want to act as a good co-ordinator. Describe the things you can do to ensure the team delivers concrete results.
Great leaders and co-ordinators get their act together. They know that clarity is the starting point for any venture. But co-ordination is the bridge to producing concrete results.