7 leadership tips
As the world becomes increasingly digital, you may feel that effective leadership is becoming more difficult. In some ways true, but in fact, this development also gives us great opportunities. Leadership can actually become even more manageable. And organizational change can become more participatory.
While COVID-19 has been in so many ways an international travesty, it has also accelerated pre-existing trends like remote work, virtual meetings and collaborative online workspaces. Very quickly, we’ve all had to become near-experts in digital collaboration. Afraid? Don’t be. We’re all in this together.
So, as Howspace’s Customer Success Manager, I’d like to share with you some of my best tips about leading change in your company. And if you play your cards right, your company’s future will keep employees feeling valued, significant, and engaged every step of the way.
1. Move away from hierarchy
Modern organizations cannot develop through giving top-down orders and sending information back and forth. With the high level of delegated responsibility that is in many organizations today, employees acquire lots of valuable experience and knowledge to take into consideration in the decision-making. To add to this, when employees are included their job becomes more meaningful, they become a part of the change process instead of being an object to the change which boosts motivation to contribute
2. Co-create the journey
With the fast pace of change, the complexity and volatility around us, there is no time to leave it to a significant few to package their knowledge and lecture it to others. Leadership needs to move toward facilitating the processes where people meet, share and reflect together. There is not one truth, there is a journey to be co-created.
3. Adapt your strategy to the context
Every situation, every change, every context is going to be different. Hence, there is not one change strategy that works for every situation. When talking about involvement and participation, we must also understand that we are not leading a democracy when leading change in an organization. There is always going to be an aspect of someone making a strategic decision, setting the direction. The difference today is that you can’t run people over; you have to find a balance between telling, selling and involving.
4. Give feedback by example
Both giving and receiving feedback is important. What the best facilitators and the best leaders have in common is great listening skills. The best way to lead is to do. In order to become the type of person who is safe and secure in giving feedback, you have to start practicing. Just do. Start giving feedback and think about what it means to you and to them. How can you give feedback in a way that makes the recipients feel good about themselves and feel safe to talk openly with you in the future? Us humans are hotwired to react to criticism. It has to do with our basic need to belong to a group, and not be excluded. Don’t wait for someone to do something out of the ordinary to give him/her positive feedback Also hearing something positive about the everyday struggles, makes people feel that what they do is seen and makes a difference.
5. Learn how to facilitate
Facilitation is about helping a group reach its common objectives. A facilitator does not supply a group with the correct answers, he/she is there to help the group find those answers together. The result of a collaborative process is ownership: People support what they have created together. For a leader, it is better that the employees feel a joint ownership of a change they need to implement since the activity needed is more likely to happen. The best processes are facilitated by a person who is neutral to the outcome. When we say that “the modern manager is facilitating” we have to understand that the manager will not always be completely neutral as an external facilitator would be. As a manager, you may already have a view on where we should be headed and what should be done. Having said that, facilitation is still an important part of being a leader: to engage in the right questions, to listen, to try to understand and move the process forward. And to not just run them over with your arguments. Be open to the input you get, and to the fact that your initial view may look different from another angle.
6. Think about how you respond
If you are to engage people or involve them, in any form of change or development, you have to create trust. No matter how friendly and open you consider yourself to be, there will always be an element of power structure between you and your employees. And they may also have a history with low trust relationships that doesn’t have anything to do with you, but affects your leadership. And it may very well affect what people feel safe to share with you. Most important is how you respond to input, questions and ideas. In any situation. Good or bad.
7. See the difference between dialogue and “Q & A”
The definition of dialogue is that both parties try to understand each other. This unfortunately is often not the case. There are leaders that talk about the importance of dialogue, but what it means in reality is that the employees are allowed to openly ask questions. In such situations there can be a tendency for both parties to defend their standpoints, not trying to understand each other. If there has been a true dialogue, both parties walk away feeling that the other did an effort to understand their perspective. And that they have learned something from each other. This creates a trusting relationship, not to mention the positive side of increased mutual understanding.
It is how you use the tool that counts
Using a tool like Howspace can be a culture change in an organization. By starting to use it with the stated objective to create involvement and dialogue, remember it is how you use a tool that defines it. Like in much of life, it’s what you do with what you have that counts.
Howspace turns into what you want it to. One use for it is for simple data collection; as a reporting tool. Howspace has AI themes, widgets, that can make that data collection much easier to make sense out of. But limiting it to just that use creates a dead end, the information doesn’t flow. You create a closed system, and closed systems cannot develop.
In my mind, a leader can use Howspace to create a better organization, by engaging people to act upon the data that the platform provides. It is a way of creating healthier organizations that can move faster because they can tap into more knowledge and the needs of human beings: to feel competent and significant.