Leadership Brings People Together Formally and Informally

Thirty years ago when white boards were a new technology <snicker> I bought a bunch of smaller ones for the cubicles of the engineers in my department. Engineers have difficulty talking without drawing. Informal problem-solving conversations was my desired outcome.

Lately I’ve heard and read several stories about various ways companies create common areas where people from different departments or functions can meet informally. Sometimes they just chat and get acquainted. Sometimes someone brings up a problem they are working on. Next thing you know there are several people thinking about possible solutions from many different angles. New people; new ideas.

Seems to me that a major component of leadership is to bring people together to solve problems. The more the merrier. Diversity of age, gender, function, ethnicity, origin–all are welcome.

The opposite seems to be non-leadership. Someone has the title but not the gumption. The non-leader fails to bring people together. They may chat occasionally, but for the most part everyone goes their own way. They solve their own problems.

I have written articles and columns for at least 15 years about breaking silos in organizations. Some articles concern technology that enables sharing data. Others discuss the people problems–such as when there is no central focus, individuals just put on blinders and focus only on their own area.


Silos are a great place to store silage–fermenting plants such as sorghum or corn stalks–used for feeding animals.

Not so great a thing for bringing people together to move an organization forward.

Hint: build in common areas and common break times to encourage people to meet informally. They get to know each other. That leads to a trust factor that makes people feel comfortable thinking about other people’s problems and devising solutions.

What a wonderful thing when people come together in trust.

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