Effective Leadership Doesn’t Have to be Hard
Leaders like me worry when we read articles such as Gallup’s recent Keys to Building a High Performance Culture. As I examine the six ways leaders should enable their organization, I think, “Wow, this is so great…exactly what I aspire to do, and yet it’s so hard to put in practice.” You could lose a ton of sleep worrying about how to constantly incorporate the latest business strategy, or you could rest easier at night by using the ultimate leadership hack:crowdsource your insights. In other words, aggregate the best of breed insights from the people in and around your business – employees, customers, stakeholders.
An Important Distinction
It’s important to draw the distinction between crowdsourcing insights and capturing feedback. Employee and customer feedback is crucial for every organization, but these types of mechanisms and the tools used are typically are best suited to telling you how you are doing. Moving from this type of feedback to how you are going to change your strategy in response requires a jump. Whereas an exercise in crowdsourcing your insights is geared towards determining what you can do differently to improve your execution. In short, (and in contrast to capturing feedback), crowdsourcing your insights compresses the time from insight to action.
Algorithms to the Rescue
According to Data RPM’s “Rise of the Algorithm,” article effective leadership itself is something that can be done by software in 2014. Luckily for me, I work at a company where we are leading that trend. Our software crowdsources insights on business problems spanning strategy, people, finance, market, and even governance through apps that immediately show misalignment, strengths, weaknesses, and recommended actions.
My Unique Approach to this Leadership Hack
So every two months, I use 9Lenses Apps to crowdsource insights on values that we feel are important, plus some standard topics such as:having resources needed to do the work, leadership listening, and addressing elephants in the room.
Rather than keeping the feedback to myself, I choose to be transparent and provide access to the feedback analytics to the entire team. My team reviews and then flags key comments. The flagged comments report serves as the agenda of our next meeting, and we blitz through the tough stuff. Everyone has to provide a “recommended action” when pointing out a problem, so it’s more of an issue of qualifying the great ideas than it is an issue of brainstorming and sorting through the chaff.
3 Key Findings from my Approach
I’ve noticed a few important insights from this approach:
1) First of all, everyone is surprised by at least one insight — a shared viewpoint they didn’t expect, a huge difference in perspective, or how missing a simple whiteboard session with status items created silos on the team.
2) Second, I’ve noticed that no matter the chosen direction on an issue, the people who were heard are more engaged and help drive the chosen path forward. That means the effort is distributed, enabled, and far more effective.
3) Ultimately, I realize that this leadership hack helps me to lead more effectively.
How You Can Get Started with This Leadership Hack
The first step to getting started is by fully understanding the distinction between capturing feedback versus capturing insights. Once you internalize this distinction, you should then think carefully about the areas of your business that could benefit from crowdsourced insights and the appropriate people to involve for each insight generation project. While you may be tempted to only include those employees who are directly involved with a particular portion of your business, remember that some of the most valuable breakthroughs can come from non-obvious sources.