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Leadership is the Connective Tissue

April 23, 2019

Leadership means having the responsibility to enable an environment that harnesses the full intellectual talent of an organization. We hire a bunch of top diverse talent but limit them by unintentionally having them work only within their part or silo of a large organization.

Leaders often have visibility and access to talented people across the organization. Your peers tell you about their accomplishments when they discuss the talent they have in their group. However, this type of collaboration at the leadership level only brings awareness. The true power comes when you have top talent collaborating and working together to challenge, design, and develop amazing ideas that generate fantastic outcomes. When this happens your intellectual capability multiplies exponentially. 1 + 1 = 25. We always hear about the mythical 10x individual contributor. I prefer the oft-witnessed 10000x power of unleashing the potential of high performance group collaboration.

“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up” — Oliver Wendell Holmes

This does not happen without deliberate attention and effort. As a leader, besides making yourself available to your team, carve out time in your schedule to take time to get to know people/talent outside your team and/or group. Do not waste time talking about yourself or your group; take the time to learn about what they are working on. What ideas do they have to make your organization better? When you do speak, use that time to share stories from the other people/talent you have gotten to know. Do this regularly with short meetings, lunches, or by striking up conversations with them at company events or town halls.

Once you discover these synergies, you need to connect these people together. Introduce them and create an opportunity for them to have time to ideate and grow amazing ideas into amazing outcomes.

In my current position, I have the privilege to mentor some amazing talent from technology, data science, product, and business. Recently, during a coaching opportunity with a data science rockstar, they had an idea for re-purposing their own algorithms in another part of the organization. Coincidentally, I was coaching someone in that area. I used my position to connect them to each other. Facilitating that meeting, they built on the original opportunity to develop other use cases. Leadership is connecting really smart people, setting the stage, then getting out of their way to create!

Ideally, an organization will have a culture with dedicated activities that make these connections happen naturally. Until it does, it requires Leaders to use their visibility and reach to make this happen.

I would like to leave you with 3 things:

  1. Make time in your calendar to reach out to talent outside your group or business unit. Try to at least start with 2 meetups per month. This could be a meeting, before townhalls, meeting for coffee, or a lunch.
  2. Bring your curiosity to that conversation. Ask questions like: what are your ideas on how to make our customers better off? What do you need? Who would you love to meet? Encourage them to write internal blogs to amplify their ideas.
  3. Once you see a synergy between people, take the initiative to connect these people together. Create a space for them to ideate.

Every keystroke is precious so I will end here.

Watch my video below.

Lead how you would like to be led.


Twitter: @DDame

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