As a leader, you need to have a group of advisors and experts outside of your organization. The importance of your external team is really important, not only for your success, but also for your peace of mind. We all know that we can't know everything or track everything that is important for our personal and organizational success. With that in mind, we need to maintain the philosophy that “it's not what you know – it's who you know.”
Your external team needs to include a diverse group of people. You need to include people from these groups:
– Lawyers in specialty areas, such as litigation, contracts, tax, trusts and wills, real estate, and HR matters.
– Accountants and tax advisors
– Comptrollers, bookkeepers and auditors
– Business advisors, including: sales and marketing, strategic planning, inventory control, CRM, etc.
– Doctors, including specialists
– Dentists and orthodontists
– Personal trainers
– Auto repair
– Information technology and computers
– Phone service, both landline and cell
– Website hosting
– Website design and management
– CRM and email management
– Computer maintenance
For most of us, we look at this list and ask, “Do I really need all of these people on my external team?” The answer is simple: if you depend on the service they give, especially in a crisis situation or on a daily basis . . . you absolutely need those specific people with those skills on your team.
If someone threatens a lawsuit, you can't afford to be looking for an attorney when you find out. You need to have one you can call right away. If your computer goes down, you don't want to go to the local office supply store and drop it off and wait for days for it to get fixed. If you need to wire money as soon as possible, you don't want to make a call to the mega-bank call center to talk to an inexperienced person who has difficulty speaking your native language. Hopefully you get the point: find the people you need as soon as possible and maintain solid relationships with them.
If you're still not convinced, here are three additional great reasons why you need an outside team with skilled, experienced members:
They provide the perspective you need from outside the organization.
When you're around your team all of the time, sometimes you need a perspective of your organization from those who are outside of it. If you are wondering how good your website is performing and reaching customers, for example, you would ask a sales and marketing advisor to check out the message your site is sending. You would also check in with a website design expert to make sure everything is running well and your search engine tags are in place. You might have a friend pose as a secret shopper, too. If you poll these people, you should get multiple perspectives that will make your website better. When you look at all of the other areas in your organization . . . hopefully you get the idea. Neutral perspectives are good, and expert perspectives are even better.
They provide ideas and influences from other sources which you don't access.
If you have strong experts from various fields on your team, you get the benefit of what they know and what they're learning from their perspectives. Additionally, you gain their expertise and related information from where they work. When they see a new trend, they can share it with you – many times before that trend hits the mainstream media. They also have access to other people whom you don't know and businesses you don't serve. Conversely, you can provide them the same benefits. When you work together, great things can happen and knowledge increases.
They provide the flexibility that you need outside the organization.
Due to the fact that they are outside the organization, your frequency of communication can vary. You don't have to talk with these people every day if you don't have the time. You can also ask them specific questions without having to discuss other matters. These “drive-by questions” can allow you the opportunity to keep the conversation broad or narrow. You can also “test” potential advisors to see if you like working with them on specific projects or not. You dictate the volume, quantity and types of conversations, without the obligation of managing them on your internal team.
If you don't have an external team, start one. If you haven't worked on expanding your external team, begin evaluating your current team and look for opportunities to add more members.
Who are your favorite external team members?