There are four defining characteristics of success: collaboration, problem solving, innovation, and leadership. These are all closely intertwined.
Collaboration is the fuel that drives problem solving, innovation and even a collective vision. However, without effective leadership at all levels of the organisation, collaboration often falls flat. There are many different change leadership profiles, from transformative to autocratic to facilitative. However, regardless of the overarching approach, successful leaders of change share a crucial formula: collect, interpret, and act. Let’s examine each a bit more closely.
Collecting information can be achieved in several ways. On the one hand, there is the every-day requirement for good data collection and data crunching. Computers and AI increasingly fulfil this role. Great leaders, however, use many additional capabilities to collect information.
Leaders are able to observe the behaviour of their team. This includes aspects such as whether employees are feeling motivated, whether the team dynamic is healthy, and whether the team is growing.
Collecting is therefore as much about listening as it is about analysing spread-sheets.
Collecting information is one thing. The human mind, when properly tuned and trained, does it naturally. However, interpreting can be another matter altogether.
When leaders interpret, they apply a combination of practical skills and what academics call epistemological frameworks. This term simply means that we filter information through what we already know and understand.
Practical skills for interpreting include communication stalwarts, such as active listening. This key skill enables leaders to ensure that they fully understand the information that they have collected and promotes clarity and shared understanding within the team.
Epistemological frameworks can also be learned. Understanding the broader picture of how individuals and teams are thinking, feeling, acting, and – most importantly – making their decisions, can be a powerful asset. During change, deep understanding is needed, and this requires good information, and excellent interpretation.
Leaders collect information, interpret it, and must then – crucially – act upon it. At the end of the day, this is what makes leaders different from the rest of the crowd. When it comes to innovation and problem solving, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Teams are dynamic, unique, and progressive. Although there are some overarching patterns of behaviour, such as Tuckman’s observation of the ‘norming, storming, forming’ arc, there are quirks and idiosyncrasies that make every team a one-off.
Leaders can therefore only act if they truly understand the psychology of the team. If leaders have collected information and interpreted it correctly, they have the detailed understanding to be able to gain powerful insight into how to give others what they need in order to move forwards.
By applying this understanding to advanced communication skills, truly ground-breaking innovation and problem solving can be achieved.
Putting Understanding Into Action
Being a leader requires translating a deep understanding of others into action – and this isn’t something restricted to the upper levels of a company. Directors and senior managers have a crucial role to play of course, but good leadership must also be present at the middle management, supervisory and individual employee level for an organisation to be truly adaptive.
With training and practice, these are skills that can be learned and enhanced. By collecting, interpreting, and acting, leaders can make sense of the environment, and apply the knowledge to empower the bigger picture to unfold. Find out more by calling +44 (0) 1462 670 342, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org