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The Strategic advantage of coalition leadership.

“If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far build a team”

As a leader and change agent, your ability to identify needs, innovate processes, pioneer new markets is not a task easily achieved on your own regardless of what your ego or pride may think. Leadership within an organization is not only reliant on your ability to align innovation, change and progress within the corporate goals but to work within the infrastructure of internal and external stakeholders, skillfully maneuvering through political landscapes and personal agendas.

Coalition leadership is the ability to motivate and organize stakeholders to join you in the pursuit of your goals. When introducing change, evaluating the political terrain is key. Who are likely to be your allies and who are likely to be your resistors? What role do they play in the organization? What kind of influence do they exert? Even after finding stakeholders with common goals who would likely support your initiative? Will they be full supporters? Marginal supporters? Private or public supporters? The more controversial or unique your initiative the more important your taking the time to evaluate and map the process is.

Ultimately your success as a coalition leader will come down to your being able to clearly communicate your strategic and tactical plans for the success of your initiative to the members of your coalition. Understanding their personal goals will ensure their support is solid and most importantly public. Public support gives your initiative legitimacy; it clearly establishes to the rest of the organization that this initiative will not only benefit many but there is a greater sense of purpose and likelihood of success.

Long term coalitions that share broad goals and common resources over time are key to the success of your agenda. If you do not establish the long-term viability of your coalition, the success of your organizational initiative can be jeopardized by counter coalitions, infighting and splintering of your coalition into interest groups. It is important to solidify your coalition right from the beginning by creating a shared sense of purpose. A shared purpose will enable your coalition to move congruently in pursuit of a common goal. Without shared purpose your coalition will likely easily fragment and may not develop the necessary momentum to overcome resistance to your efforts.

Getting your coalition into action at the early stages will also help you weed out marginal supporters. You may find that early supporters were really only supporters in casual conversation, or they were supporters up until you went public and scrutiny and criticism of your initiative began as it always does. Marginal supporters can quickly become resistors without the proper and timely nurturing. Even with public support, people will maintain their public hidden agendas and assumptions even after they’ve bought in to your agenda. If you allow those personal motivations to go unchecked or clearly understood by you, you run the risk of you having a message that becomes diffused by a collision of personal interests that never achieves the focus required to see your change agenda through. Spend the time to clearly understand the member’s motivations. Why are they supporting your agenda? What is in it for them? What do they expect to gain from being part of your effort? Under what conditions would they no longer find it useful to support your change agenda?

Ultimately your success in leading a coalition comes down to your ability to translate your agenda into action, being true to your mandate yet remaining flexible enough to make adjustments to plans as required. Setting up a time table with achievable milestones that will lead to small success early on will be a great foundation to establish momentum. The wonderful thing about leading by coalition is the ability to work effectively as a team counting on each other’s support, celebrating accomplishments and creating an environment of inclusion and mutual opportunity for future collaborations.

Carolina Billings

Carolina Billings

Carolina M. Billings is an executive with 15+ year’s leadership experience in the fields of Business Development, Human Resources and Finance. As CFO-CHRO of a multi-million business conglomerate, she performs a truly interdisciplinary role within a portfolio of diverse industries ranging from Supply Chain, Logistics & Distribution, Wealth Management, Furniture Import, Sales & Distribution as well as Interior Design. She champions leadership initiatives as well as empowering and coaching/mentoring others to lead. Developing a hybrid of Finance and Human Resources has enable her to become leading business partner. Her great ability to influence and engage others in the pursuit of goals and objectives makes her a true innovator and change agent. Carolina is currently pursuing her Masters in Interdisciplinary studies with Royal Roads University, She holds Graduate Certificates from Cornell University and Queen’s University in the fields of Change Management and Leadership. She is a Co-Active Professional coach currently doing her practicum towards Certification with ICF. She holds a CHRL designation and a High Honor’s HRM Graduate Certificate. Carolina is the founder of Big Fish Coaching a private practice specializing in personal leadership, career coaching, conflict resolutions and life change management.
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