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Boundary-Less Leadership: Working ACROSS Boundaries towards a COMMON Goal!

**Welcome to a series of posts about what leadership looks like at D2L. Here at D2L, we recently shared the leadership competencies/behaviours that we know are required to transform the way the world learns. We considered both business and client goals and needs, and our drive to continue to disrupt the world of learning for K-12, Higher Ed and Corporate Learning. The competencies we decided upon aren’t new. They aren’t rocket science. They don’t come with cute little sayings. But we believe in them. And know they will set the stage for people to do the best work of their lives here at D2L all while helping to make learning more engaging, accessible and inspiring.**

If the only customers who matter are paying customers who don’t work at D2L, then we’re missing the point. If the only team that has something to offer us, is the team that we are currently a part of, then we’re missing the point. If the only person whose opinion we respect, is that of fellow people leaders/individual contributors, then we’re missing the point.

  • We’re missing a huge opportunity to work together to transform the way the world learns (that’s our purpose, by the way!).
  • We’re neglecting relationships that matter- relationships that do in fact ultimately impact the paying customers.
  • We’re excluding a diversity of thought and perspective that is often the birth place of creativity and innovation.
  • We’re ignoring opportunities to see things from another’s perspective and potentially working together to create something better than we could have done alone.
  • We’re denying ourselves the opportunity to increase the information and knowledge being brought to the table- decreasing the likelihood that we are making decisions with all the relevant data.
  • And frankly, we’re just not practicing basic respect and collaboration principles that we try to encourage in our children!

At D2L, we NEED people leaders and individual contributors alike to effectively manage the balance and sometimes conflicting priorities of internal and external customers.

To manage in today’s global and diverse work environment requires a leadership focus that reaches far wider than our own team, departments and even company.

We need people leaders and individual contributors who are creative and committed to harnessing collective wisdom across boundaries but towards a common outcome. We want people who treat the often self imposed boundaries of departments, geography, leadership levels, budget lines and teams as fertile ground for growth and potential.

At D2L, we see examples of this everywhere we turn.

We see Boundary-less leadership when an individual contributor says- “How might this change impact our relationship with Department X?”

We see Boundary-less leadership when Senior Leadership Team members work together to consider budget limitations and constraints in a way that goes beyond their immediate organizations.

We see Boundary-less leadership when a team humbly reaches out to those not normally reached out to for feedback.

So, let’s work on it….

What can you do to be a more boundary-less?

1) Pick 2-3 projects or pieces of work that you are involved in and ask yourself- “How is what I’m doing supportive of a Boundary-less approach?” and “In what ways is what I’m doing NOT supportive of a Boundary-less approach?

2) Does your organization offer “get to know you” sessions? If so, you should attend. At D2L, we offer Quick Connect! The intention is to bring together people from various parts of company in order to relationship build, share stories, better understand each others’ roles and connect with others. Think speed dating a la D2L style!

3) Invite a completely random group of people to a meeting to review and offer feedback about your work or project. What feedback or perspectives might they offer by seeing things from a different point of reference?

4) When a decision is being made- consider using a simple blast radius approach. Ask yourself- how will this impact the customer, our team, the department, other departments, the business, etc.? Explicitly answer these questions with your team and consider your best next step.

It’s too easy to only think about OUR team, OUR department, OUR approach, OUR results and OUR challenges. It’s just too darn easy. And human. So don’t feel badly if thinking from a boundary-less perspective takes a bit of stretch, a bit of work. Check your resistance. Look for role models. Take small steps. We know that the boundary-less approach is critical to our success as an organization. Good luck!

**We have set Be Boundary-less as one of the necessary leadership competencies here at D2L. We are humble enough to know that simple saying something doesn’t make it so. We recognize and celebrate those who do it well. We tell the stories of what good looks like. We are embedding the competencies into our onboarding programs. You’ll see them in our job descriptions. We’re developing learning opportunities to allow these capabilities to be strengthened in our formal and informal leaders alike. We continue to work at holding each other accountable by increasing our opportunities to provide each other regular and in the moment feedback. Sometimes we succeed and some days…..Meh….Sometimes this stuff is easy. Sometimes, it requires a bit more bravery. But it’s worth it all of the time.***

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