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Building Networks with External Business Partners

Completion requirements

In today’s volatile marketplace, a key responsibility of the team leader is to assist the team to adapt to the external environment. In fact, some literature talks about the boundary-less organisation, where the team leader needs to identify all means internally and externally which can assist the company to become more efficient. Some years back, it was only the marketing department and CEO who would be in contact with customers. Things have however changed, and organisations increasingly set up cross functional network teams to improve on efficiency and customer service. The same can be said for other external relations such as corporate social responsibility, supplier relationships, benchmarking teams etc.

Where the traditional leader will focus his attention on throughput; the new generation leader would empower his team to focus on throughput to leave him free to focus on the surrounding environment. This includes internal relationship environment with team members and other business partners (as discussed in module 2 & 3) as well as the external environment.

External environment could include issues like:

  • Customer and vendor interactions
  • Benchmarking with other companies/groups
  • Assessing competitors and market opportunities
  • Legal and community issues of importance
  • Forecasting new technologies
  • Building communication bridges with other groups (internally and externally
  • Forging important alliances
  • Bringing training and development opportunities to the group

Companies usually have protocol, either official or not-official that regulates contact with external stakeholders. This would usually entail that you need to get permission from a Exco/Mancom member or the CEO himself to make external contact.

Companies that promotes all levels of managers to ‘scan’ the external environment would usually approve processes and not only individual liaison events. All leaders need to be informed on the company protocol with regards to external stakeholder contact. This is a process that can easily turn haywire if not properly co-ordinated.