I’m becoming obsessed with cross-fertilizing brilliant ideas. There are so many clever ideas, concepts, solutions and people in our magnificent world but on their own they seem to yield very little impact. In order to solve the complex, persistent problems of today we need to cross-fertilize and mass collaborate.
After watching Hans Rosling’s keynote from the 8th annual Passport to Global Health Celebration I was struck by how pervasive some of our false beliefs are. This may be the most powerful proof that the world is now one, this is not theoretical, it is fact, it is not “we” and “them”, it is all “we” now. The concept of having two types of countries; the “west” and the “developing world” is past, such was the case 50 years ago, but not today. This is what is fundamentally driving our Shared Value movement. We are all on the same team now and if we act like it, we can solve the seemingly unsolvable.
There is no industry more in need of a shared value approach then Health Care. The Health Care business community has been trying to address the same problems for decades with minimal results and colossal costs. However, if we merge, blend and join together the enormous amounts of brilliant discoveries, ideas, and solutions we can finally make some meaningful changes. Key to our success is accurate context of our current environment; Hans Rosling’s discovery is a powerful illustration of how false beliefs can distort global strategies. We need to further explore the Joy of Stats to modernize our perspectives. Without this, our Shared Value movement is at great risk of misfiring.
As I reflect on problems large and small with a cross-fertilized approach, leveraging the genius of the principles of the Shared Value movement and Motivational Design in context of a fact based world view that everyone understands, the clarity is extraordinary.
Today’s post was inspired by The 8 Stupidest Management Fads of All Time and The 5 Dumbest Management Concepts of All Time by Geoffrey James. I would respectfully disagree with some on his lists but I did enjoy his provocative perspectives. Geoffrey’s articles got me thinking about the most dim-witted leadership strategies that continue to linger in today’s business community. The good news is that there is growing momentum in our appreciation for transparency and we are finally starting to embrace the power of mass collaboration. Let’s agree to abolish these 5 useless and more often dooming leadership strategies.
#1 Command and Control
Command and control leaders might as well put a blindfold on along with some earplugs. Typically these leaders rationalize their methods emphasizing the negative outcomes of consensus based strategies. Consensus based strategies, while polar in nature, are as dysfunctional. Both strategies are negligent and like most things in life the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle. Decision makers are crucial, as are collective buy-in and the voice of the team broadly. We need more leaders that have the confidence to act and the humility to listen.
#2 Bottom Line Be All End All
Leaders that put the bottom line above all else will eventually find themselves at the bottom without the line. And assuming they defy the odds and sustain this risky strategy, they will not be maximizing their potential. They are simply gaining more than they are losing. I’m not suggesting the bottom line is not important, it is without question a key performance indicator, but it is no more significant than customer experience or employee experience and arguably less important. A healthy bottom line can be a goal, but it is not a strategy. Once again, it’s about balance, we need more leaders with the courage to focus beyond the all mighty dollar.
#3 Tradition and Prescription
While tradition might provide comfort, familiarity, and even bind groups of people, it can also inhibit and even sabotage meaningful change. I’m not suggesting all traditions be tossed, but they do need to be examined mindfully and they should never be maintained blindly. Similarly prescriptive leadership may provide consistency and reduce complexity but the reality is we do not live in a one size fits all world. It stifles creativity and fosters inflexibility. The effort required to develop a universal solution is enormous and commonly fraught with compromise on behalf of the customer. That said, highly regulated industries often require a more prescriptive approach, such as Health Care. The key is to examine all practices through the lens of your customer; it is possible to both meet regulatory demands and remain creative. Bottom line, we need more creative leaders that embrace and celebrate change.
#4 The Black Hole
Every company has a black hole, that is where all the wasted money, energy and talents fall when the are misused, misunderstood or worse unnoticed. I would bet that we could feed an entire continent, if not the world, if we could monetize this waste collectively. Every company needs a ‘waste master’, chances are they would be your most profitable investment. Leaders are often aware of some waste and blind to even more, we need leaders that have the courage and foresight to eliminate waste and in so doing maximize their potentiality.
#5 The Lone Ranger
This is the “I need to do it myself if it is going to get done right” leader. News flash, you are NOT a leader if you are doing everything and deciding everything. Being a leader is about empowering others, motivating them to act like an owner. A lone ranger may feel like a rock star but nothing could be farther from the truth. This leadership approach will chase away the talent on your team, it clearly does not scale, it is not sustainable, and it puts your business at massive risk. We need leaders that cultivate positive results from others; a smart leader surrounds themselves with those smarter then they are.
What does your top 5 dim-witted leadership strategies list look like? And what does your top 5 smartest leadership strategies list look like?
As we begin to embrace the power of mass collaboration and radically re-discover, re-shape, re-invent, re-new, re-act, re-approach, and re-create our corporate environments, supply chains, industries, really our business community broadly. Companies with the courage to actively embrace this revolution will discover and expand their potentiality. Our biggest barrier in this quest is the attachment to traditional solutions and fear of change that are so tightly guarded in our command and control business structures. We need to acknowledge, reward and seek out audacious leaders without titles to evangelize and harness change.
The brilliant Robin Sharma has written a book The Leader With No Title. He illustrates that to create spectacular results, we need to awaken inner leaders to
Bottom line, “we all have the power to show leadership where we are right now and shine at brilliance in all that you do”. I would add that the more audacious you are about it the more you will harness full potentiality. When I think of a superstar audacious leader without a big title, I think of Susana Lazaro of Abbott Laboratories.
Susana is passion, and she has mastered the art of leveraging that passion for the greater good and igniting others along the way. Her passion is matched by her authenticity, compassion and creativity. She has the courage to foster meaningful change and the audaciousness to navigate through even the most challenging and limiting barriers. She is refreshingly forthright, driven and highly articulate. Most notably Susana ambassadors more significant change than many of those with more leadership authority within her organization. This is not a poor reflection of the leadership senior to Susana but rather a reflection of the power of leading and seizing opportunities day to day and developing a trusted tribe of supporters. In fact it is arguable that her lack or corporate authority is an asset to her approach.
I worked closely with Susana as a client, we were partnered to radically transform the patient experience of a initially bottom ranking patient support program that only one year later was top ranking. The program and support team grew at the speed of light and the complexity of services combined with numerous limiting barriers would in most circumstances impede positive results but thanks large in part to Susana’s tenacious, unwavering commitment to put the patients AND the support team first the program today is a big success.
This was first and foremost a team effort and there are many heroes in this story but no one that fought harder or lead stronger than Susana. Her manager and the leaders her manager reported to, supported Susana’s sometimes unconventional methods, this took courage on their part. Too often our traditional command and control structures are fearful of leaders without titles, fearful to empower them and give away control. I believe we need to embrace, harness and reward these humble heroes.
Do you know any leaders without titles?