Are you a “Dual Citizen” at your company?

It’s high on the wish list of leaders: They want their employees to focus intensely on their specific roles, but also have a good grasp of the overall strategy. That way, they can see the big picture and appreciate how their work contributes to the broader goals, making them more likely to contribute innovative ideas.

Without that mindset, people can fall into a myopic focus on their own to-do lists. That’s how silos start to creep up – with people thinking of colleagues in other departments as “them” rather than “us” – and silos are what bring down even the greatest companies.

To encourage big-picture thinking, leaders have to find ways to communicate and constantly reinforce this idea of “think globally, execute locally.” Some have encouraged employees to think as if they owned the company – not in terms of ego, of course, but just to nudge people to lift up their gaze from their own desk and see the broader perspective.

But nothing beats an expression I heard recently from Helene Gayle, the CEO of CARE U.S.A., the anti-poverty group. In my recent interview with her, she shared her views on the idea that managers should be “dual citizens.”

Here’s how she described it:

“I’ve had to make some fairly major changes since I’ve been here in my leadership team because I had leaders who really weren’t fostering the kind of openness and collaboration that we needed. We can’t have people who are competitive and just thinking about their turf. I like to think of it as people needing to be dual citizens. You’ve got to be thinking about your own interests but also wearing that broader corporate hat.”

There is tremendous power in a phrase like “dual citizens” – it is short and memorable, and captures the spirit of the idea. The ability to come up with phrases such as this is a subtle skill that all great leaders share.

(article by A.Bryant)


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