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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Mar 3, 2023


In this episode we explore putting the “inter” into connection.



Welcome to episode 176 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we bring research to life in your leadership. This week we explore putting the “inter” into connection.


I’m recording this in March 2023. The last few years have brought dramatic changes to the way we work. Necessary adjustments during a pandemic have had positive, negative and interesting impacts on how we approach our work today. There are individual impact, but today we’re going to focus on teams and collaboration.

One of the interesting shifts highlighted through research conducted by Microsoft and others is that teams have become more intra-connected and less inter-connected. Teams have become more siloed - showing a 25% reduction in cross-group collaboration when compared to 2019. At the same time, teams are more intra-connected - adding more active connections within the team.

The positives from this shift include greater team identity and connection at a local level. It’s an understandable response to extraordinary times - we draw in with those we’re closest to. But a negative is that we invest less time working across the organisation. We become more “intra” than “inter” connected. However one of the advantages of being in an organisation is the cross-team collaboration that allows us to deliver more than the sum of its parts. The challenge for many organisations now is how we bring inter-connection back. Here are three tips for re-building inter-connection.

  1. Self-reflection point. Ask your team to identify the positives, negatives and interesting elements of how we work in our organisation today. Why do we include interesting? The author Edward de Bono has helped people to think about thinking. His six thinking hats framework for example encouraged people to approach problems from six different perspectives, and also recognise their more typical approach to situations. One thing that stood out for me from his work was our tendency to look at things from a perspective of positives and negatives. That many of our institutions such as politics and our legal systems are adversarial. But this way of looking at the world can constrain us. There’s also interesting things - things that aren’t necessarily positive or negative, but are still relevant. I’m sure you’ll find exploring positives, negatives and interesting elements of how we work to be beneficial.
  2. Work across teams to identify how we can help each other. You might think of this as paying it forward at a team level. What can our team do to help another part of the organisation? If you’re a support function that might be easier. But if you’re in operations, consider how you can help a support function and make their life easier. Or perhaps your organisation is segmented by geography - look for ways to support other regions.
  3. Actively connect people across the organisation. Help people in your team to build their network. You don’t necessarily have to do this with an outcome in mind beyond building inter-connection. You’re likely to have more connections than the people you lead, so use these connections to help build their network.

I believe as we rebuild inter-connection our teams and organisations will be able to achieve far more than we could by just focusing on our own team. Have a great week.

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