“We need to break down silos.” I hear this in almost every conversation I have with leaders working to do more. Some lead organizations that are trying to find relevance in the current dynamic environment. Others are trying to meet the expectations of all leaders: moving their organizations, agendas, and people forward. The truth is: if you don’t break down silos, you are limiting the progress you can make.
To start on this path of silo-busting, work on breaking down those silos around YOU.
First, know that the silos I’m talking about here are actually the internal barriers keeping you from your community and therefore your progress. They can take any number of forms. See if any of these situations sound familiar to you; they’re all the results of being stuck in your silo:
- You’re a leader within your industry or sector, but you’re unknown beyond it.
- You’re unable to reach meaningfully beyond your existing network.
- You don’t have the broad coalition you need to advance a critical goal.
- You struggle to fit into a larger civic conversation about the issues that matter to you and your work.
- You seek greater credibility within your sector.
- You hit repeated, unexpected roadblocks when trying to move your agenda forward.
If you’re stuck or not moving fast enough in your company, organization, or agency, it’s likely that you haven’t ventured far enough from your safe space into other silos/communities.
The natural question that follows is, “What’s stopping you?”
Everyone operates within silos because it’s easy.
Silos arise because we like being comfortable. All of us. We get a faster sense of accomplishment when we do the easy thing.
Knocking down our silos takes an investment of time and resources. We can always find another, easier place to direct that energy.
And we all know the most worthwhile things are often the hardest to do. But if you care about reaching your goals, you have to get started.
Bust through your silos with these strategic actions:
- Acknowledge that you are most comfortable in a silo—your place. Remember, we all have our comfort zones—but these comfort zones are holding you back.
- Identify the silos you’re operating in. You probably have more than one.
- Select the communities, sectors, and other spaces that could benefit you and your work, but where you are not a presence. This takes thoughtful consideration that looks below the surface of another silo as well as your own. What core functions, purposes, and constituencies do you share in common with this space? Those are the key elements that reveal where you might have alignment even if at first glance you seem to have nothing in common. What you learn may surprise you.
- Be deliberate about reaching out to key individuals in those spaces. You don’t just show up. Find a guide, the one person who can explain the new community and how you might connect with people within it to see if you can be a part of it. You’re never connecting to another sector—you’re connecting to, working with, and bonding with people in that other sector.
- Be open to different approaches, ways of thinking, language, and social interaction that are standard for this new community. Like any new place, local customs and culture will define it. Be aware of your own preconceptions (and misconceptions) and enter as a guest, with humility.
- Find small interactions and collaborations to both test the ability of the new community and show your authentic, capable, and valuable self.
- Build on the trust you create, to draw new people from other communities into yours.
Take one step at a time—and don’t try to break down every silo at once. It won’t happen overnight, and it’s the work of a lifetime if you’re serious about becoming a better, more respected, more sought-after leader.
Reap the benefits of silo-busting.
As you go about this work, expect three positive outcomes:
- You’ll become a better leader as you expand your connections, deepen your guidance, and diversify your assistance to advance your organization’s goals.
- You’ll be empowered to go farther and achieve more as you build your community brand.
- You’ll experience personal and professional growth—because that’s what this is.
If you make the conscious decision to do it, it’s simple to do. You just have to get out of your comfort zone—which may be the hardest part.
One more way to grow as a leader: Strengthen your community brand.
A stronger community brand can smooth your path as you break down your silos. To get started, just answer 8 questions and our experts will assess your brand’s strengths and shortcomings. There’s no charge, no obligation—Request your Community Brand Audit now.