Mastering the Role of Integrator in an Organization
Recently I realized that I’ve been seeing my role of Integrator all wrong—and it changed everything about my work.
In the fall I attended the Integrator Mastery Forum (IMF), led by Mark Winters, coauthor of Rocket Fuel. I arrived at the full-day workshop thinking that I understood what an Integrator is all about. I expected to learn some great tips to make my job easier and communicate better. Instead, I got gobsmacked—along with many other attendees!
As Integrators, it’s easy to think we understand our jobs, without fully understanding how critical our role is to our organizations. If you’re also an Integrator, what I learned might be a shock to you too.
I’m Running This Company!
Before attending the IMF, I saw myself as a helper—basically I just acted as a “task doer,” helping the leadership team execute their To-Dos. I thought that was my role.
At the forum I learned that my role is to drive everything forward all the time. A Visionary can get stuck—not knowing how to execute their ideas. Someone with my skillset has the unique ability to help a Visionary execute on those big audacious ideas—on behalf of the whole organization.
Suddenly I realized, “Holy sh*t, I’m actually running this company!” At that moment, my role of Integrator took on a whole new meaning.
Before the IMF, I saw myself as an executive assistant. But the Integrator’s impact drives the entire company forward. It keeps everyone focused. It gets their To-Dos and Rocks done. And if you get your To-Dos and your Rocks done, you’ll hit your annual goals. So what the Integrator does is make sure that everybody in the organization moves forward in the same direction, so that all the departments are working cohesively together.
Now I understand the decisions that I make impact the entire organization. If I make a series of wrong decisions, it could impact how we end up financially, at the end of the year.
The Impact of Having More Impact
This realization has had a tremendous effect on everything I do at Traction Tools. On a daily basis, I’m constantly thinking of the greater good of the whole organization. Before, I was just concerned with the individual person I was directly helping. I would focus on this task for him or that task for her. But I need to make sure that all of those tasks don’t negatively impact the rest of the organization farther down the line.
So everyday I have in the forefront of my mind the entirety of Traction Tools: How does HR’s work impact the success of the Sales team? How does Engineering impact IT? I see all the pieces of the puzzle and look at how everyone’s work fits together.
It’s a huge responsibility. Countless lives are impacted by the success of one small organization. It’s not just the employees who are affected—it’s also their families, our community, our partners and vendors, and the EOS® community as a whole. My work helps provide the opportunity for everyone to live what EOS calls their EOS life™—doing the work we love to do, with people we love to work with, and getting compensated appropriately. I come to work everyday wanting everyone we work with to live that kind of life.
Leading the Leaders
Now that I’m learning to lead appropriately, the people under me can manage their own departments with greater freedom. My job is to clear out obstacles and lead our team in the right direction, so that they have the space and capacity to manage their own departments. Then I get to elevate myself to do all the higher-value things that I love to do.
When a manager comes to me with an issue, I don’t have the same knee-jerk reaction to solve it for them anymore. I don’t have to take on that burden. Instead, I can empower them to solve the issue themselves. Then they’re free to do all the things in their department that they love to do.
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Working with the Visionary
Many Integrators at the Forum had a challenging relationship with their Visionaries. Managing ideas and goals from their Visionaries was difficult, creating a stumbling block that made it more difficult to go to work each day.
Having authentic, open conversations that build relationships and build trust—those are critical. Integrators and Visionaries can really benefit from getting more help to do that.
If you’re an Integrator, make it a priority to go to the next IMF. You’ll learn how to work in unison with your Visionary. As they share at the IMF, neither person can be successful without the other. That relationship is by far the most important one in the organization. Without those two people working in unison, it’s impossible for the company to move forward. I’d heard that before, but now I really get it.
You’re Running Your Company!
Integrators have a tendency to get beat up a little bit—they’re the executors. They just plow ahead without realizing the value they provide to everyone else. It’s kind of a thankless job. The Visionary gets credit for developing great ideas, but they wouldn’t be successful without the Integrator.
I’d like you to know you’re valued, and that you’re an integral part of your organization. You’re actually running your company! Chances are, you’re usually so busy “doing stuff” that you don’t sit back and realize the great work you do and how important it is. So take some time to give yourself a pat on the back!
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