Often times we address individual leadership traits or behavior. Today, I’m here to discuss the group dynamics of leadership in an Outside-In® company. What factors are different compared to those of other organizations? I thought it made sense to put together some different perspectives that are challenging and important for leaders who chose to lead in an environment where all are equal, and communication flows in all directions.
Seven Steps to Outside-In® Leadership
1. Leaders must always be accessible. Our goal is to “Never have you see us sweat”. Not in a dishonest way, but instead, to show that we view our role as one of being available, calm and truly centered on the situation at hand. It’s important to be readily available for our team when they need us, whether its taking the time out to address their immediate need or acknowledging they need guidance and figuring out a time to work out a plan.
2. Leaders can never play the busy card. Bottom line, we are all busy. Your people will surely play the busy card for you. “I know you’re busy, but can you…?” Truth is no one cares that your busy. Our job is to manage the business. It’s to work it to the point where, well, we have it all under control and are working on the right things in our role, making the place run better. On to my next point!
3. Plan your time as a leader in proactive ways. Leaders today do so much, and in today’s flat, matrix worlds this is somewhat necessary. Know that is not the goal of a leaders role in an Outside-In® company, your goal is to be proactive, to be available, to solve problems. Better yet, to go looking for areas of opportunity in the business. And by the way…
4. Leaders should delegate properly. You can’t get to Outside-In® leadership behavior, if you refuse or struggle with the basics of delegation. Your staff is not your personal dumping grounds for menial tasks. That is not the point. But leaders seem to grasp the opportunities given them. Staff are here to do big tasks, and to learn and develop their skills. They want and need that constant challenge. That can only happen if you plan accordingly and give them the work that fits!
5. Get out from behind your desk and teach smart employees every day. Outside-In® leadership has a job to do. And that is to keep employees coming back with something new to learn. Sharing knowledge is a vital component of an Outside-In® company. It’s what supports the pillars of communication and flat management practices within the Outside-In® framework.
6. Accept that as leaders, we will never again have all of the information. Frankly we never had it. Today in the era of big data, we can have all of it and still not know what to do with it. Making decisions is about experience and about the basics of doing it well. For me it is simple. SEE. THINK. ACT. You will see things in your business, in your peer’s business, in other offices. You will be challenged to try and fix everything. You will have rumors, innuendos, half facts, stories, and in some cases, the real facts.
7. Trust that others are doing their job. It’s one of the hardest parts of leadership. Keep in mind, they may do it differently than you. Just like employees do a task differently than you, they still may want the same or better outcome! But trust we must. Yes, role clarity and organizational charts help. Yes, it is important to get along with the people you work with. But in the end, do you help or hurt your teammates? Do you really know how to team?
If you ask me, the hardest part of leadership is not knowing what to do. It is knowing what not to do! Use these steps as a guide towards developing your own Outside-In® Leadership. If your company is flat and knowledge-based (or you want to manage it that way), apply these practices and see how they work!