5 Great Ways To Hack Your Leadership Style

Our world is run by leadership decisions, good or bad. We learn that the FBI spent about 1.3 million to hack an iPhone, when director James Comey finally divulges just enough information. A top talk show host steps off the set in a legitimate huff and the network is caught short. Google the word “leader” and you’ll get, on a given day, some 1,070,000,000 results — partially because someone made decisions in what we’d see. Leading is a hot seat and some of us embrace it and some of us don’t. And there are always ways to do it better.

But whatever you do, it’s going to be reflected in the organization. So here are five ways to shift to a far better model:

  1. Turn it inside-out.The hyper-collaborative, ideaphoric culture at Google is nowhere more apparent than with the X team, tasked with the most audacious problem solving there is. To save time and resources and push their own vision, they conduct pre-mortems to kill their best ideas, trying to predict in advance why an idea is going to tank.
  1. Forget nice. Despite the trend to see leaders as benign, ethical, moral, centered people, they’re not always. Some theorize that it’s not even necessary: in fact,sometimes good behavior is actually counter-productive, and slows down implementation. Forget about finding your emotional true north. Just get it done.
  1. Hands off, but be present. A leader having her or his hands in every single task may seem like a nice idea, but it jumbles up the works. Let the managers do their jobs but don’tabsent yourself from the day to day: far more validating to let them run with it, and then be there when you’re needed. Enabling your teams to find their way out of a snag is far better and probably more cost-effective than grabbing the wheel to drive a solution.
  1. Embrace difference. Organizational true north is when all are working towards a shared mission: That’s where the conformity should be. A leader sets the compass point so everyone else can get on the same path. But that doesn’t mean everyone takes the same route, or handles it the same way. Shoehorning behavior is a myth: It’sactionthat needs to conform. Don’t mistake shared mission for uniform conformity. 
  1. Stay open. The world of work is vertical: It’s nearly impossible to not be thrust into a position of having to lead whether they want to or not. So practice. Try different techniques. Get the books and test out their theories. If someone’s approach appeals, take a closer look. Collect those good quotes, those chestnuts of wisdom that make you feel a little bolder. Align that sense of growth and wonder with your culture.

Gaining a true, well-honed self-awareness of what makes you tick as a leader and what doesn’t will drive you to be far more authentic. It won’t go unnoticed. The one thing you can’t change about leadership is that it will drive the company culture, like it or not. Among the famously worst leaders of last year was the beleaguered head of Volkswagen, whose relentless pursuit of numbers led to a culture of scandalously bad decision making. No question of responsibility there. But the world is filled of terrific examples of great leaders making remarkable decisions that changed the world. You’re probably using one to read this.

Does an organization ever act on its own, despite a leader? Even if they do, they’re inheriting that unilateral impulse from the leader — what looks like despite is actually because. The truth is, regardless of size, scope, mission, or brand, an organization cannot run without a leader, and no leader is an island. You can quote me on that.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Informed Managers Drive Employee Success

Engagement + Performance = Employee Success.

And the best way to maximize employee engagement and performance is by empowering managers to lead their teams with intelligence.

To create success, managers require smart, appropriate tools. In a recent report — Empowering Managers to Drive Employee Success — information technology analysts at Aberdeen Group took a close look at the manager’s role in employee engagement. In that report, Aberdeen found that the best way to optimize talent and improve business results is to deliver solutions that help managers understand activity within their team and highlight areas to manage.

However, most talent management solutions are fragmented, offering very little useful data or insight. Aberdeen’s report points to three important tools that empower managers — analytics, integration and transparency.

1) Analytics

With current technology, executives can keep tabs on major company data points on a nearly constant basis. This information helps inform decisions on specific programs and larger corporate direction. With access to appropriate analytics, managers can make informed decisions based on relevant individual and team performance indicators.

2) Integration

When various human resource information systems (HRIS) don’t talk with one another, there is a much greater risk of redundant work as well as errors from entering the same information into separate programs. Integration streamlines that effort and ensures that managers get the most out of all of HRIS programs, connecting talent and workforce management.

3) Transparency

Transparency makes it much easier for managers to align with corporate goals, and better monitor team activity. When everyone is “on the same page,” and relying on clear indicators of progress, managers are empowered to move the business forward. Applying this visibility across all corporate initiatives addresses talent and business challenges like the need to manage corporate-wide employee referral programs, increase workforce loyalty, and facilitate knowledge transfer between groups.

Business Success may start with Employee Success, but Employee Success starts with empowered managers. Learn how to give your managers the right tools to drive success. Download a copy of the full Aberdeen Group report now.

What dashboard data does your company provide to managers? Let me know in the comments below…

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome. Learn more…)

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(Legal Note: Employee Success is a trademark of Achievers Corp.)