External Leadership for Teams

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Ways Your Team Can Lead by Encouraging External Awareness

When we talk about teamwork, we often focus on internal dynamics: goal setting, communication, leadership, and process. It is equally important, however, to build team skills in political savvy and external awareness. These skills help a team scan the environment for current information and prepare key stakeholders for future steps associated with the team’s work.

You may have been involved in a project where the team was oblivious to the perception of outsiders. Or you may have been on the other side of this scenario watching a project implode because the participants weren’t aware of how their actions impact others.

Is it possible to teach political savvy or external awareness? We think so. First, we will give you some general tips on how to improve your team’s external awareness. Then, we will provide you with a list of seminars that allows you to dive deeply into the subject.

Tips to Improve the External Awareness of Teams

Are you entrenched in a current project and worried that no team members have pulled their heads out of the sand to see others’ reactions? Here are things you can do right now to improve your team’s external awareness.


Identify or assign a team “scout.” 

Externally aware teams have at least one member who enjoys “getting the scoop.” The best team scouts listen to what is happening in the organization, the industry, or the marketplace and then apply what they hear to the team’s mission. If there is a connection, the scout brings back the information to the team. Then, the group actively discusses whether it needs to make any course corrections in activities or communications in response.


You already know who on your team to select for this mission. Remember not to “shoot the messenger” if they report back information that you didn’t want to hear.

Build in time to talk about the external environment.

Schedule time on a meeting agenda to discuss the potential impact of the team’s work on its stakeholders. Also, consider how the team’s work affects other external events or activities.


Ask regularly, “How could our team goals impact others? Who else should know about what we are working on?” Stakeholder management and building coalitions are essential skills that flow from external awareness; talking about stakeholders is the first crucial step.


Invite external stakeholders into your circle.

Organize a brown bag meeting with another team doing similar or complementary work. Coordinate with your manager and executive team to invite a senior leader who can provide added perspective to the team’s activities. Also consider external stakeholders who are customers or patrons in your school district. Regardless of who you seek for the opinions, take time to process the information you learned from the meeting and develop action plans.

Build your elevator speech.

A great activity to develop political savvy involves asking team members, “If you were in an elevator for a 10-floor ride with the head of your organization, what would you say about your team?” Too often, teams focus on explaining their technical activities without explaining the overall goal and reason for engaging in those tasks. Comparing responses across the team helps calibrate team members’ understanding of the mission and its relevance to the broader organization.

Create a briefing or executive summary about your team. 

Once you have an elevator speech, expand it into a briefing or executive summary. Once it exists, you may be surprised how often your organization uses and shares it. Others inside and outside your organization may be interested in what you are doing and how you are doing it. Work through your chain of command to explore the possibility of holding a briefing or webinar to share your work. Consider converting your executive summary into a blog post or newsletter article for your organization.


These are practical activities to build individual and team skills that can result in tangible outcomes that benefit your organization. Build the political savvy of your team, one activity at a time. However, there are other actions you can take to improve your team’s external awareness. Here are courses developed by Pryor Learning to assist you in your journey.

External Leadership for Teams Courses Offered by Pryor Learning

External awareness can be developed. Are you ready for more action items that can improve your team’s external awareness? Then, purchase a course through Pryor Learning.

Leadership, Team-Building, and Coaching Skills for Managers and Supervisors


Successful sports teams often are the result of excellent coaching and leadership. Likewise, you can build a winning team at work – with the proper training. This popular one-day seminar offered by Pryor Learning teaches you powerful coaching methods that turn your employees (even the problem ones) into productive, motivated winners.


This informative and fun seminar teaches you how to produce a game plan to ensure your team meets its goals. You’ll learn how to select the team “scout” to improve your external awareness. Plus, you’ll learn how to uncover your employees’ strengths and talents.


Those who wish to improve their teams’ external awareness will appreciate the segment of the course dedicated to strategy. You’ll learn the following:

  • How to determine if you have the right people playing the right game.
  • How to spot superstars and coach problem players.
  • How to think on your feet.
  • How to avoid “over-coaching.”

Register for this live, virtual seminar or bring this effective training to your workplace by scheduling a private team training.


Inspiring Employee Motivation and Engagement

You may suffer from poor external awareness because your employees need to be more engaged. However, the cause of this lack of engagement may need clarified.


Regardless of the cause of the lack of engagement, fixing this situation helps your employees become more productive and externally aware. Learn how to keep teams connected, engaged, and effective with “Inspiring Employee Motivation and Engagement” through Pryor Learning.


Besides learning strategies to motivate others to perform at their personal best consistently, you gain helpful insights on working with different age groups (Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, Generation Y, and Generation Z). This knowledge is essential if your goal is to become more politically savvy in and out of the workplace. You’ll learn how to motivate your team to collaborate and produce while positioning yourself as an influential, effective leader.


This half-day seminar is available as a live virtual seminar or Pryor Learning will bring the training to your workplace.


Building Teamwork One Individual At a Time

In the previous section of this article, we encouraged you to build an elevator speech, briefing, or executive summary that describes your team’s goals. Download training today if you need help completing this necessary step for improving external awareness.


For example, this one-hour webinar, “Building Teamwork One Individual At a Time,” can be digitally downloaded. This Pryor Learning course will teach you and your team the following:

  • How to define and communicate your team’s goals.
  • How to create a mission statement.
  • How to develop a team improvement plan to manage current projects and streamline future ones effectively.
  • How to identify roles for each team member (including the “scout”) and set expectations accordingly.
  • How to create guidelines for clear and concise communication.
  • How to develop a plan that identifies project goals and gets every team member on board.
  • How to incorporate participation from all group members.


If your team needs a “reset,” this webinar is for you.


Coaching Skills – Beyond Basic Supervision

HR managers, department managers, supervisors, and anyone involved with employee development and growth would benefit from Pryor Learning’s one-hour webinar titled “Coaching Skills – Beyond Basic Supervision.”


This course helps you improve employee engagement, which is central if you wish to improve your team’s external awareness. You will learn how to work with divided groups and instead form cohesive bonds. In addition, you’ll learn how to go beyond supervising tasks and timetables and help your employees see the big picture of how their actions affect the overall health of your organization.


Pryor Learning Can Improve the External Awareness of Your Team

Of course, Pryor Learning can help you grow as an individual by helping you set goals and improve communication skills. However, we can also help you with your organization’s “big picture.” Register for one of our helpful live online seminars or digitally download one of our training sessions to improve the external awareness of your team.


Pryor Learning offers timely, affordable learning solutions for individuals, teams, and organizations. We have provided training for FedEx, Goodyear, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Airlines, and Estee Lauder. Over our 50 years in business, we have helped over 13 million learners become better employees.


Visit Pryor Learning’s website today to register for one of our popular seminars.


Courses in Customer Service, Excel, HR, Leadership, OSHA and more. No credit card. No commitment. Individuals and teams.

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  • elise says:

    Love the executive summary idea. Very frequently team members actually lose sight of the fact that a department is a team. In my world, it can be the front office against the back office and it isn’t friendly competition, it can be all out war. Will put this to use.