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Cross boundaries to become a better leader

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September 21, 2011

A recent Center for Creative Leadership survey reveals that 86 percent of senior executives believe it’s extremely important for them to be able to work across organizational boundaries.

What does that mean? CCL identifies five categories of organizational boundaries:

1.    Vertical: Across levels and hierarchy.

2.    Horizontal: Across functions and expertise.

3.    Stakeholder: Beyond the boundaries of the organization with external partners.

4.    Demographic: Across diverse groups (gender, ethnicity, nationality, etc.).

5.    Geographic: Across regions and locality.

To become a boundary spanner, and thus a better leader, join organizations that will give you opportunities to work with a diverse array of people.

Develop your interpersonal and cross-cultural skills so that you are picked when your department or company needs to send an effective representative beyond its borders.

As an accountant, you might:

1.    Work at different levels and across functions by supporting colleagues with budget information or by helping them understand monthly financial reports.

2.    Offer to be your department’s liaison with the outside auditors or your accounting system vendor.

3.    Be open to learning more about your colleagues’ backgrounds and values.

4.    Offer to coordinate production or special projects between headquarters and remote accounting staffs.

If you can’t find boundary spanning opportunities in your job, consider joining Toastmasters International. The organization provides training in communications, persuasion and leadership to all members.

Beyond basic membership, you can volunteer for leadership roles within Toastmasters. By taking on progressively responsible assignments at the local, regional and national levels, you can get any type of boundary spanning experience you want.

As you can see, with a little creative thinking, you can find many opportunities to expand your boundary spanning capabilities.

Donna Svei, CPA, CFE is an executive search consultant and resume writer. Monster.com named her one of their “11 for 2011: Career Experts Who Can Help Your Job Search.” Donna blogs at AvidCareerist.com. You will find her on GooglePlus at gplus.to/donnasvei and on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/donnasvei. Donna can be reached at (208) 721-0131 or donnasvei@gmail.com.

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