I started my career working in I.T. and progressed into an Executive position. During that period, I saw the transformation of many organizations. Some failed and some succeeded. The common denominator among those that succeeded was the leadership skills of the people. In my opinion, no matter the size of the organization or the industry, success rests with the talent employed. Leadership is far more than merely performing one’s duties. Leadership extends to thinking strategically, and sometimes out of the box. Leaders are individuals who listen and accept other viewpoints. Leadership should not exist only at the executive level but throughout the organization. Do you have someone in a department who has ideas? Someone not afraid to express their opinion even if it’s not the same as the group? Someone who can lead a team? These are people that should be nurtured within the organization. Not all the ideas will be good ones, but at least someone is creating conversations about improvement and advancement of the business goals. Environments that don’t foster creative thinking will see individuals always siding with authority and the effect of Groupthink kicks in.
Groupthink, is a mode of thinking in which individual members of small cohesive groups tend to accept a viewpoint or conclusion that represents a perceived group consensus, whether or not the group members believe it to be valid, correct, or optimal. Groupthink reduces the efficiency of collective problem solving within such groups.
We all inherently look for followers but what we need are leaders at all levels of the organization. The greatest position to be in is a position of leadership over a group of leaders. It means as a leader we must be able to listen and allow subordinates to lead strategic projects. We act as sponsors and provide the resources that will allow the project to succeed.
Why is this so important today? Today businesses are transforming at a rapid rate. Technology is changing the landscape and businesses must now compete with the new economy. Amazon, Ebay and other startups transformed the way business is done in the b2c world. Today those same dynamics are being played out in the b2b space. What businesses need now, big and small, is a vision of the future and a plan of action. Albert Einstein is credited with the phrase, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” I have seen time and time again where departments when faced with meeting targets try the same thing over a over again. No original thoughts are put into place or external suggestions accepted. They build Silo’s, being protective of their space by shutting out new ideas and viewpoints. These silos become isolated and removed from reality as the world changes around them. The organization is left behind as competitors take over the space.
When building a team via employees or business partners, look for leaders. Not only should you ask questions, but listen to the questions you are being asked. A true leader is willing to be challenged.