My new book Ingaging Leadership: A new approach to leading that builds excellence and organizational success was published only last month. People are already letting me know that they are putting Ingaged Leadership to work and seeing positive results.
In today’s post I’d like to share some insights into one of the most important aspects of ingagement . . . the power of putting collaboration to work in your organization.
What Is True Collaboration?
Leaders at many companies typically use the term collaboration to describe brainstorming sessions that are held to generate ideas around a specific topic or problem. The leaders of those companies seem to believe that effective collaboration means getting people together into the same room to air big ideas.
I see the power of collaboration as being so much more. It goes beyond generating ideas and gives people a sense of ownership. When people genuinely collaborate, they become invested in the success of current processes and the overall success of your organization, too.
Even if you are extremely astute in business and know what needs to be done to succeed, I encourage you to still involve your team in finding solutions.
If you go to your team and say, “Here are the answers to our current challenge . . . here is what I want us to do,” their initial reaction will be to evaluate what they’re being told. It’s just human nature. They will ask themselves questions like, “Do I like his idea . . . how does it impact me . . . is it really a good idea . . . isn’t there a better answer or solution?”
You will discover that you can achieve far better results if you bring people together and say, “We need to work together on this issue. I have some ideas, and I’m sure you have ideas, too. What do we need to do?” If you spend time thinking about it and discussing it as a group − and if you are open to letting people make improvements to your best ideas − the end result will be a group of people working together to make the best solutions happen.
So collaboration isn’t just about making better ideas. It’s about building ingagement and effectiveness to make great things happen.
Case study . . .
Those are demonstrable benefits of collaboration yet nonetheless, many executives don’t take the time to collaborate. Instead, they fall back on the traditional management style of, “If I ask people to do something, they should just do it.”
My family’s business was a classic example. We had a salesperson who was phenomenal. He typically outsold all the other salespeople in the company. And when he would request simple and basic favors from the people he worked with, such as things he needed for his customers, he was typically met with resistance. That was because he didn’t take time to tell people why he needed what he was requesting. He didn’t ask for opinions – he wouldn’t collaborate at all. As a result, the other employees became resentful and weren’t eager to do what he asked, and he couldn’t understand why. When I explained why he encountered such resistance (and by now all you readers should all understand that it had something to do with his lack of ingagement), his response was, “Well, I’m the top salesperson so if I just say to do it, that should be good enough.”
His authoritarian attitude started to negatively affect his business. At a certain point he realized in order to continue selling successfully, he needed to adjust.
He started taking the time to involve the other employees by saying, “I have an issue with a client . . . Here is what is going on . . . I need some help . . . Do you have any suggestions? . . . Have you tried something that has worked better?” The other members of the team became supportive. And if they had a better idea, they had an opportunity to share it.
In time, he grew and ended up closing 10 times more sales than the average salesperson did. Through ingagement, he built success through the support of his company team and his customer team too.
Remember that “Just because I said so” Is not Good Enough
If you are a company leader or a manager who supervises a staff, the reality is that “just because I asked” isn’t good enough. In the short term you can bully or intimidate people, but for the durable health and success of your organization, you need to take steps like these toward fuller collaboration:
• Explain why you want something done.
• Ask people for their opinions.
• Strive to approach challenges in better and different ways.
You should not take these steps because they make people feel better, but because they lead to better outcomes.
Steps that Lead to Ingagement
Reflect on how you talk to people and request their ideas and help. Do you take the time to explain the issue you are facing? Do you check to ensure that they understand why you are asking? Do you leave an opening for them to suggest better ideas and solutions? If you take steps like those, you will quickly see big improvements in the way your company performs, and in its ultimate success.