We cannot ignore the need for 2020 Leadership in our organizations. I have seen many discussions on HR and training forums about the needs of leaders and managers. These talk about leadership development and talent. As a result of my research recently, I have noticed that practitioners often talk about the contents of training. The style of the delivery. And importantly how cheap and quick we do this.
Ignoring the fact that you cannot have high quality training that is quick and cheap. (I wrote about this here – https://rapidbi.com/time-quality-cost-you-can-have-any-two/ ), What is interesting is the focus.
The focus of many of these questions is about what to include in the training. No accounting for the style of culture of the organization. Nor how this training may fit in with the training of other managers and leaders in the organization.
Whilst researching for a new article I came across this great piece at HBR. The silent killer of big companies written by Boris Groysberg (Harvard Business School) and Michael Slind (writer, editor, and communication consultant).
Groysberg and Slind wrote this piece in 2012. It still valid today.
The key successes the authors highlight are:
“They [Leaders that manage the flow of information] adopt communication methods that enable them to get closer to employees. They put in place communication systems that promote dialogue, as opposed to monologue. They engage employees by allowing them to become active participants in the communication process. They rigorously pursue an agenda that aligns their communication efforts with organizational strategy.”
Get closer to employees takes 2020 leadership
All too often in business we rely on organizational communication systems to share information. This is great in that we know what information has been communicated to whom. We also know what has and has not been said. Importantly it has been communicated at a time and in a style consistent with the “brand guidelines”. This is great for mediocracy, poor for effective communications and a 2 way strategy. How can we understand what is happening in our organizations if all we do is push down data and listen to the filtered, formal communication channels?
We need a 4 step plan to get closer to our employees:
- To learn more, listen better. We need to listen through all channels not just during formal large scale team briefings
- To have a big impact, meet in a small group. We all know that talking to people in smaller groups breaks barriers. It gives the opportunity for people that have something to say and not just those most vocal
- To build trust, show trust. Why will our people share knowledge with us if we have not shown that we can listen? And that our people can trust us to do the right thing with the information they provide, in the context in which they give it?
- To be a better communicator, be who you are. Just copying the communication strategies of those that went before us wont work. We need to be our own person. To use things in an authentic way. Use what works for US as individuals, not just for the organization.
Promoting dialogue is a 2020 leadership strategy
So that we can generate discussion, we need to become more interactive with our people. The advent of social tools in business can help us. But only if we use the tools ourselves. We need to avoid delegating this, and keep away from the formal organizational formats and structures. There is a place for formal structures. But not when it comes to building interactions with the knowledge pool that are the employees of the organization. Be authentic, trust your gut (it got you the job in the first place) and listen as well as talk.
Some approaches that can help include:
- Showing your face. Be seen, regularly. Be that walking around the office or in videos on the intranet. Do not just be present, but encourage questions and be seen to answer them.
- Reinvent the intranet. All too often the intranets in organizations are owned and set up by IT. What you need is a human friendly interface with easy to access content. Use the varied social business tools that are available. Make this part of your daily routine. Build conversations not announcements
- Encourage conversation. All too often our structures and culture stifle conversations across and throughout organizations. Managers often get territorial. Stop this practice and publicly wave the flag for open conversations.
- Pull the plug. Online chats are only part of the communication strategy. Do not let the online world be the barrier to real life conversations. Create face to face opportunities.
Engaging employees for 2020 leadership
We need to go beyond traditional employee engagement approaches. As a result the effective leader engages with shop floor employees to help to communicate key messages. Those messages may be internal or external ones.
As leaders, we need to lead by following. When we have people that are blogging or tweeting about things in the business, as leaders need to show we read and comment on the posts of others too. When we see a key message that an employee has communicated we need to endorse it. To give support and recognition. We need to build OUR engagement with our people. All too often employee engagement is up the other way! The wrong way!
2020 leadership needs us to Pursue an agenda
One of the biggest killers of productivity and performance is a lack of clarity. When our people are unsure, they will be slow in making decisions. They will make the right decisions for the wrong reasons, and the wrong decisions for the right reasons.
We need to ensure that every person in our organization makes the RIGHT decision for the RIGHT reason. Of course, they won’t always be the best decision, but that is life!
Our job as leaders is through all the tools and vehicles mentions above, and many others is to ensure that all our people understand the strategy we are following and why. They may not agree with it, but at least they will know.
Without this sense of clarity people will at one point or another feel untrusted, scared and undervalued.
Putting it all together
As organizations struggle to survive and meet the expectations of stakeholders, managers and leaders need to change things from the way we used to do them.
Many organizations thrive on stability. With much of what they do on a day to day basis the same as last year and the tear before. It is easy to get sucked-in to believing that stability is the key to survival. It is these firms and organizations that are least prepared for the future.
Because the world is VUCA. It is Volatility. Things are Uncertain. Situations and environments are Complex. The social environment in which we operate is Ambiguous. If we do not recognise this as the environment in which we are operating, then this is a major threat to our organizations.
Much like a swamp or narrow water way, navigating in a VUCA environment takes adaptability and a sense of fluidity. Having clear goals effectively communicated is critical to any chance of survival. We need to be willing to change those goals and communicate the change is also important.
2020 leadership is an approach to ensure our organizations are sustainable in a VUCA environment. Change is here, can we keep up? Follow these 4 steps towards success