What’s the No. 1 reason why leaders care about developing greater boundary spanning capabilities across their organization? CCL research shows that the runaway, top-of-mind answer is “the drive for innovation.”

A recent IBM study of more than 700 global chief human resource officers revealed a similar message. In the paper Working Beyond Borders, IBM reports that driving corporate growth and innovation in the future means “engaging much more seamlessly across a wide range of geographic, functional and generational boundaries and borders.”

Unfortunately, the boundary spanning aspirations in most organizations are not living up to reality. Our research at CCL shows that 86 percent of senior leaders say that working across boundaries inside and outside their companies is extremely important. Just 7 percent, however, believe they are very effective at it.

That’s a huge gap — but the story doesn’t end there.

CCL research also suggests that the pressure to span boundaries may be greatest on middle managers shifting to senior-level jobs.

Boundary spanning is important for middle managers, according to 91 percent of senior executives surveyed. But only 19 percent of middle managers were seen as effective in working across boundaries — a gap of 72 percent between perceived importance and effectiveness of boundary spanning capability.

“The ability to shift from a bounded, within-group mindset to one that skillfully bridges vertical, horizontal, stakeholder, demographic and geographic boundaries is a key challenge for leaders and organizations as a whole,” says CCL’s Chris Ernst, co-author of the new book, Boundary Spanning Leadership: Six Practices for Solving Problems, Driving Innovation, and Transforming Organizations. “Leaders recognize that innovation, by its very nature, requires intense and sustained collaboration across wide-ranging boundaries.”

The IBM study found that working beyond borders requires organizations to do three things:

Cultivate creative leaders. The IBM report says leaders need to develop “a flair for thinking about opportunities and challenges in completely different ways” while leveraging the talents of “an increasingly dispersed and diverse employee base.” CCL’s Ernst agrees: “The intersection where boundaries collide, cross and link is the source of new ideas and where creative solutions emerge.”

Mobilize for greater speed and flexibility. “The leadership advantage increasingly goes to organizations that can quickly integrate far-flung people and resources to capture emerging opportunities,” says Ernst. The IBM report notes that this requires simplified processes; fast, adaptive workforce solutions; a responsive human capital supply chain; and the ability to fluidly allocate resources.

Capitalize on collective intelligence. According to the IBM report, “Tapping into a broad base of institutional knowledge is critical to developing and maintaining an innovative culture. Enterprises must adapt innovations, apply them across their organization and find new ways to connect people to each other and to information, both internally and externally.”

Innovation comes down to boundary spanning leadership. “The old challenge for leaders involved how to operate effectively within the boxes and lines of traditional organizational charts,” Ernst explains. “The new challenge is how to think and act beyond yesterday’s boundaries to discover innovative new frontiers.”

AIMC International Conference
April 10-13, 2011
Orlando, FL

David Magellan Horth, CCL Senior Faculty Member, will be the featured keynote speaker and a workshop facilitator at the AIMC International Conference, April 10-13, 2011 in Orlando, FL. The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) is proud to be a strategic partner of the AIMC Conference. The Association of Internal Management Consultants (AIMC) is a network of Internal Consulting (IC) professionals in Fortune 500 corporations and public sector organizations, and the external experts with whom they work. Their practice areas include organizational effectiveness and development; leading change programs; and leadership and training. AIMC chapters are located across the United States, Europe and South Africa. The CCL Tuesday keynote session will be a highly interactive and practical session and is titled Leading Change in Turbulent Times and the Wednesday workshop is on CCL’s body of research on Boundary Spanning Leadership. The conference will include a mixture of leading internal consulting programs, best practice methodologies, skill-building workshops and interactive networking opportunities. Members and Non-members are welcome to register to attend. For more information about AIMC or the conference, please visit www.aimc.org. Read David Magellan Horth’s article The Importance of Boundary Spanning Leadership in the AIMC Winter Newsletter.

HRPS Global Conference 2011
April 3 – 6, 2011
Tucson, AZ

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) is a premium sponsor at the HRPS Global Conference 2011, a premiere event for strategic-level HR practitioners from around the world, which will be held in Tucson on April 3-6, 2011. This intimate, three-day meet up features dedicated “think time” around current issues with immediate takeaways to address challenges within your own organization. CCL senior enterprise faculty member, Chris Ernst, will co-present a session on Boundary Spanning Leadership: Collaborate, Innovate and Transform Your Organization with Greg Pryor, the Vice President of Leadership and Organization Effectiveness for Juniper Networks, the world’s second largest provider of high-performance networking systems and innovation. For more conference information and to register, please contact HRPS at www.hrps.org.

The Conference Board
Leadership Development Conference
May 4 – 5, 2011, New York
June 8 – 9, 2011, San Diego

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) is collaborating with The Conference Board on the 2011 Leadership Development which will be held in New York City on May 4-5, 2011 and in San Diego on June 8-9, 2011. The theme of the conference is “Decoding the Leadership Essentials for the Next Decade.” CCL senior enterprise faculty member Chris Ernst will co-present a concurrent session onSix Key Practices in Spanning Boundaries with Greg Pryor, V.P. of Leadership and Organizational Effectives with Juniper Networks, the world’s second largest provider of high-performance networking systems and innovation. In addition, CCL will have an on-site exhibit featuring our leadership products, publications and services. For more information and to register, please contact The Conference Board at +1 212 339 0345 or visit www.conference-board.org/conferences/. To take advantage of a $300 discounted conference rate, please mention reference code CG1 when registering.

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