October 11, 2010 at 5:25am
The success story of how Barack Obama empowered Chris Hughes, a 25 year old, to lead his Presidential campaign, has resounded far and wide. What were the critical success factors that made the campaign such a success? Next, what can we learn from this? Lastly, how do we apply this success story into reinventing leadership, through the eyes of the young?
For the young who were motivated by how Chris Hughes treated the world as his oyster, and for the experienced management who would like to experience a whiff of fresh management ideas, please read on this hack. I promise to be unorthodox, creative, and hopefully, inspiring.
The Centre for Creative Leadership has listed the following points as key gaps in a leader.
(In the points below in italics, it indicates how a group of young professionals between the ages of 25-30 view their leaders)
- Lead and motivate people; My boss is not strategic
- Plan ahead and create doable strategies to reach a shared vision; My boss does what makes him look good, not what is right for the business.
- Facilitate organizational change; My boss creates politics among his own team
- Inspire commitment by rewarding people’s achievements; My boss takes credit for the team's effort
- Communicate well with top management; Yes definitely, since my boss manages upwards, not downwards.
- Persevere with good results in adverse conditions; My boss does not take the lead in adverse conditions and pushes responsibility to others.
- Learn quickly as new needs arise for technology or business insights. My boss stops learning once he becomes the boss.
In a recent article by Seth Godin, "Heroes and mentors", it struck me that great bosses are just the equivalent of mentors. They are rare and maybe, we have to look for heroes in our professional life.
This hack is designed to motivate the young, to not give up even in the hands of poor leadership, to give them a voice and lastly, to create a positive learning environment, for both employees and managers.
What if we implement an exercise where all employees spend half an hour at the beginning of the day, list down their daily tasks in an open portal, match those tasks to company objectives, and check against that once completed? We can "like", comment and question on the great work that interests us, gives us a deeper understanding of the whole organisation and promote shared learning. Most importantly, it appeals to the perfectionist side of employees who want to do their best, and their efforts are recognised openly. This also ensures projects are executed according to stipulated timelines and there is no one riding on the coattails of anyone else.
What if we implement an exercise where our management gives a daily challenge and a list of projects that have been identified to rectify company issues, and is open to all to recommend, open to all to sign up for, and eligibility is determined by how great an idea is, voted company wide?
What if we can even influence who gets hired in the company?
What if we implement an exercise where performance appraisals are done company wide based on an accumulated score of their completed tasks?
What if we implement an exercise where we can rate our leaders and there is a quarterly leaderboard to determine the best manager for 1) strategic relevance 2) mentorship and advisory 3) creativity 4) problem solving?
What if - this is an extreme - there is an option for our management and bosses to - wait for it.... part with some of his enormous bonus, so they can further reward the other employees who produce quality work?
Maybe the next time we do another survey, the results will turn out to be these:
- My company encourages me to initiate projects and we are all motivated to do our best
- We understand and know what the management is doing, and we see the strategic relevance, and we in return, do everything to support their initiatives.
- There is hardly any politics in the team since everything is out in the open.
- My management is selfless and rewards their staff at his own expense.
- I have an open dialogue with my leader and my leader knows me for who I am, not what my manager tells him I am.
- When bad times arise, this thought "I hope I take the retrenchment package" does not come to mind. Rather, "I want to rally everyone to tide the company through hard times"
- We promote knowledge sharing and constantly strive to improve project after project.
If an organisation were to test this hack, I would say, identify your worst rated employees and find out why they are considered low performing. Set them out on this quick and dirty experiment as a "Performance Improvement Program".
If they are truly lazy, they are forced to improve. If they are being undermined, they have the opportunity to shine.
Inspired by my heroes:
My fellow friends struggling to align to their work cultures, developing respect for their managers and wondering how to remain true to oneself in this crazy world of human behavior.
My colleague who is a director, who has inspired me through the way she manages her team.
To Ellen Weber, who gave me the "stroke of luck" on how to start this essay.