Teams often work across departments, across time zones, and across cultures. They may come together for a project that lasts a week, a month, or a year. Individual team members have their own ways of doing things and their own perspective on both the work at hand and the business at large. And depending on how well the organization as a whole communicates, that perspective may or may not be reflective of its true priorities.
Enter the corporate locksmith.
This person may not have a fancy title or an enormous staff. But he or she holds the keys to the organization on a number of levels, and can unlock both different personalities and different parts of the company. In doing so, a corporate locksmith can bring a team together, helping them develop a shared understanding of the context for their work.
Jennifer Sukis, design principal for AI practices and leadership at IBM, plays this role frequently at the company. “I work with teams that need to figure out what their big new concept is going to be and then help them decide how to work through that challenge,” she says. “And because I work across so many teams at IBM, it’s often my job to inform them about other projects that are going on within the company.”
According to Sukis, a good corporate locksmith must excel at the following:
- Know the company inside and out. He or she understands both the organization’s big-picture goals and how other projects mesh with those goals. This helps teams define their own task more clearly. That clarity eliminates friction: No more confusion about priorities, potential redundancies, or even the value of the work at hand. And with less friction, team members are more likely to collaborate effectively—to put any differences aside in service of the greater vision.
- Be a skilled leader. This team member is uniquely positioned to articulate both the forest and the trees. Sukis notes that playing this role successfully requires a substantial amount of preparation; before she starts a workshop, she aims to thoroughly understand a team’s goals, challenges, and internal dynamics.
- Be a team player. Sukis reaches out to colleagues who’ve tackled problems that relate to the current group’s task and, if schedules permit, invites them to join the team in person. Brainstorming alongside a colleague who has already solved a vexing problem—seeing the ideas they scribble on Post-it Notes and later collate on Easel Sheets—can create a powerful example for team members. Plus, as Sukis points out, this practice helps build stronger relationships. “There’s nothing more efficient than knowing somebody who’s great at what they do,” she says. “So I try to build people’s networks and help them create stronger ties, so they can connect on their own down the road.”
Ultimately, a corporate locksmith is key to a team’s success. The right person can help unlock your team’s innovation, creativity, and collaboration.
This article was created with and commissioned by Post-it Brand.