You’re Not the Boss of Me!
By Eileen Habelow, Ph.D.
This is one of my favorite pithy sayings I use when I disagree with someone who is TELLING me to do something—and he or she is “not the boss of me.” I say it in jest. But, it is an easy way out of some conversations. Someone tells me to do something with which I do not agree, and if they do not have ‘authority’ over me, it is my choice whether or not to comply with the request. I don’t have to discuss it. I don’t have to defend my position. I can simply say, “no.”
Not that any adult, with an ounce of emotional intelligence, would ever say that in the work environment. Certainly not using those childish words. I wonder, though, how this plays out, underground, in teams across companies.
I work with many teams and team leaders in many companies and every experience is similar in some ways, but different in other ways. One critical dynamic to understand in any team is the relationship between the team leader and team members in terms of reporting hierarchy. In other words, do most or all of the team members report directly to the team leader? Or, is the team a truly cross-functional team with no formal reporting relationships for the team leader? The answer to this question has important implications for the competencies required by the team leader…or does it?
My first thought is, yes. It must have an impact. Since the team could (theoretically) say “you’re not the boss of me”, the leader who is truly a cross-functional leader, must:
- INFLUENCE team members to action. Team members must have BUY-IN, understand and agree with the WHY behind the ask.
- ENGAGE all team members in the discussion, ENSURE all are HEARD, and take the diversity of opinions and make a decision.
- NAVIGATE THE POLITICS within the organization, understanding enterprise priorities and how the potentially competing priorities of different functions can impact the team’s success.
Here’s my next question. When we refer to high-performing teams, what are the different things cross-functional teams need to do well when compared to functional teams? Are there differences?
That’s one thing we are working to understand through the data-based research for our Team Performance Diagnostic.
Leadership-Link has conducted significant research on what the best performing teams in corporate environments do well. Based on our research, we have created the Team Performance Diagnostic to provide companies with an instrument to diagnose the performance of their teams and build a team-specific development plan to drive higher productivity, improved innovation, and better results.
We are looking for 50 teams to complete the online assessment. For the first 50 teams who complete the assessment, we will provide a free detailed team performance report plus one hour of interpretation.
And, I will tell you the answer to the question, “is there a difference between cross-functional and functional team competencies?”