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A cartoon Bubbles laments:  “Why can’t we all just get along?” and for that moment, I know how a Power Puff Girl feels.

An unanticipated consequence of having other managers in the same department is the competition for limited resources.  If the goals of the department are uncertain, if the department priorities constantly change, if communication is spotty from the top down and then across the lines, and if I’m left to guess on what criteria my performance is judged, I will error towards hoarding what I have in resources:  staff, money, equipment, time, contacts.

I think that its this uncertainty within my own department combined with the uncertainty of the national economic scene that fuels my anxiety and brings out what others may interpret as my competitiveness.  There is no question that I’m competitive, but this is something else.  This high octane mix of uncertainty makes me a self-centered manager and an ineffective negotiator much less a collaborator.

How do I get above and beyond this troubling state of inefficiency?

My strategy is about forming and maintaining relationships:

  1. First and foremost is keep talking to your boss about the organization’s and his priorities.  Ask him how you fit in the larger picture.  Find appropriate opportunities for all of the managers to hear this information at the same time.
  2. Insist on regular meetings with your fellow managers to keep communication flowing.  If your ploys for meetings are ignored, stop by, often unannounced, with or without an agenda.
  3. Form your own informational network with managers and directors from within the organization and find opportunities to strengthen and extend this network.

One truth I have uncovered is that mangers aspiring to be leaders can’t always depend on their own perceptions and efforts and then hope to overcome all opposition by slugging it out as a solo act.  Success depends on keeping your boss informed, making connections, and building new programs with the power of dialogue and consensus.