Followership – 4 Tips to be a Great Team Player
These four tips will help you show really good followership, which is the core of great leadership, as well as show that you've got great teamwork skills.

Followership – 4 Tips to be a Great Team Player

In our last post, we talked about how managers can understand Millennials, as well as build strong working relationships with them. Working relationships and respect are a two-way street. This week we’ll talk about how to be a great follower and team player. This is important for everyone, no matter what generation. Whether you’re Millennial, Boomer or Gen X, these tips are going to help you be a great team player. Even if you own your own business, you are still responsive to customers, clients, and possibly even investors. These four tips will help you show really good followership, which is the core of great leadership, as well as show that you’ve got great teamwork skills.

Followership Tip #1 – Know Your Organization’s Mission

We all get really head-down sometimes working on our tasks. Sometimes we divert in a direction that’s not really productive because we’ve lost focus on our mission. We focus so much on details, we forget we’re serving a larger purpose. That’s why we’re part of a team, to achieve something that we couldn’t do on our own. Recognize what your organization’s mission is. Focus your efforts on enhancing that mission. Don’t be afraid to speak up if an idea doesn’t align with the mission. Work with the people around you to ensure all your ideas and efforts serve your organization’s mission.

Followership Tip #2 – Know What Your Boss is Held Accountable For

Do you know how your organization measures your team for success? You may all be working towards a stated mission, but your team leader might be accountable for things outside of what your awareness. Your boss’s boss may be measuring the success of your team and your leader on other factors. What is your boss held accountable for? It may not just be what’s going on your team. Understand the metrics used to measure your team. Keep track of the metrics that senior leadership uses to measure success for the whole organization. You will learn how your leadership makes decisions as well as how to present your ideas so they will be well received.

Followership Tip #2 – Show Initiative

There’s always a lot of tasks to do in any organization. We all appreciate the people who step up and do them. Those people show strong leadership potential and we select them to be team leaders in the future. Find uncompleted tasks and do them. Don’t worry if it’s not in your job description. Or put together a small team inside your team to get it done. This comes back to what your boss is held accountable for. If there are things that are falling by the wayside, show some initiative and get them done. Show senior leadership you’ll be a great leader by exhibiting good followership.

Followership Tip #4 – Present Fully Formed Ideas

Last week we talked about how leaders should be coaching and mentoring young Millennials to fully form ideas before presenting them. Ask for mentoring and coaching, but also try to meet your boss halfway. Be as thorough as you can when you put together ideas to pitch to your boss. Recognize what the impacts will be, not just to you, but to your team as a whole. Also, consider impacts to other stakeholders outside of your team. Define those impacts in terms of money, time or any other important metrics, as well as solicit the perspectives of others. Talk with the other teams and find out how your proposal will impact them. Will they support your proposal? Bring all the relevant information and perspectives together and present it in a clear and easily understandable format. This will help you make a very strong case for your idea to your boss.

Followership is the core of leadership. In the Air Force, we worked very hard to create great followers that understood the principles of good leadership and became great leaders later on. and I hope that works for you too. Next time you want to propose something to your boss use these tips to make a strong case. Show initiative and put together a really well thought out plan. By meeting your boss halfway, you’ll have more conversations about great ideas, instead of just getting quick yes or no answers.

Managing up isn't just about getting our boss to accept our proposals. We need to build trust that we will act in the best interest of the organization.

Managing Up – 3 Tips for Managing Your Boss

Often, as leaders, we get wrapped up in day-to-day problems and leading our own team. We sometimes forget how important managing up is. We need to build strong relationships with our boss and our boss’s boss in order to lead effectively.

Effective leaders do more than just manage their team. They build strong working relationships their leadership up the chain. Managing up isn’t just about getting the boss to accept our proposals. We need to build trust that we will act in the best interest of the organization.

When I was a young Air Force Captain, I was working on a project and had to go see the Wing Commander. I had put together a few options but wasn’t really sure which one to choose. I went to the meeting and asked him what he wanted to do. He looked at me and said, “Jason I’m a Colonel, you’re a captain. You’re the project officer. Figure it out.” He then explained that he wasn’t trying to be harsh, but rather that he trusted me. As the expert, I should be recommending to him what the best alternative is. That experience taught me what managing up is all about. Bring solutions to the boss instead of just bringing problems or questions.

Managing Up Tip #1 – Bring Solutions, Not Problems

Effective leaders will go to the boss and present the problem, their thought process and their preferred solution along with several alternatives. Go to your boss with some solutions in mind. Don’t just bring more problems. The boss already has plenty of problems on his plate, we don’t need to bring him more. You show initiative by providing several solutions and build trust by showing that you have the best interests organization at heart.

Managing Up Tip #2 – Solve Your Boss’s Problems

Don’t just solve your own problems. Solve your boss’s problems. When you talk to the boss about a problem and how you’re going to solve it, think about the way your boss thinks about it. Consider their concerns they have across all of the groups they manage, not just your team. Also, be aware of the requirements that are placed on your boss from above. If you can solve your boss’s problems they know they have one, you’re effectively managing up. Your boss is going to trust you and see that you have that initiative to accomplish the mission and do what’s right for the organization.

Managing Up Tip #3 – The One Challenge Rule

What if your boss completely shuts you down on the solution you presented? That happens sometimes and we need to deal with it tactfully. In this case, you can use the one challenge rule to effectively manage up. You don’t want to argue with your boss over the right thing to do. After the decision, if you believe they are making a mistake, take one opportunity to say so. Lay out your case respectfully and calmly in a logical way. The boss may change their mind or decide to go with the original decision. Either way, you made your case and the boss will respect that you tried to do the right thing for the organization. Once the decision is made, go execute according to the boss’s guidance even if you didn’t get your way.

Next time you’re getting ready to pitch one of your ideas to your boss even further up the chain, think about these three tips before you go into the meeting. Remember, we’re trying to build a strong working relationship with our boss and all of the leaders in our organization. We want to build trust by showing them that we’re focused on our mission as well as what’s in the best interest of the organization.

Following the chain of command can be slow and painful, but there are some advantages. When you understand the chain of command, you can use those experiences to improve your own leadership skills.

Chain of Command – 3 Tips to Make it Work for You

Following the chain of command can be slow and painful, but there are some advantages. When you understand the chain of command, you can use those experiences to improve your own leadership skills.

While I was in the Air Force one of my assignments was rapid prototyping and testing of new capabilities. It was exciting and rewarding, but there was a lot of risk. We had to go through a lot of levels in the chain of command to get approval for our projects. When I first started this job, it was incredibly frustrating. But I learned over time that I was getting huge benefits by working through the chain of command. That experience forced me to understand the needs and interests of each leader in the chain. If you feel like you’re hitting your head against the wall with your chain of command, here are three things to consider of how it benefits your career instead of feeling like its holding you back.

Chain of Command Benefit #1: Improve Your Critical Thinking

Bosses ask a lot of questions and it can be kind of annoying sometimes. They ask these questions because they have concerns you may not be aware of. Answering these questions helps us get to the best optimal solution for the organization. It may not be the best or most convenient solution for you, but listening carefully to their questions and answering them thoroughly will set you up for success. Keep track of the questions that certain decision makers in your chain, or even out of your chain, ask. Chances are they ask the same ones over and over again because the same concern comes up on every project. If you already have a good idea what questions they will ask when you bring your next project, you can address it thoroughly in your first presentation to them and solve their problem before they even know they have one.

Chain of Command Benefit #2: Build Strong Relationships

When anticipating the questions your chain of command may ask, you may wonder how to get those answers? Building relationships with other parts of your organization will help you gather the information you need. To successfully navigate your chain of command for approval you’ll want to get the perspective of the other departments on how your proposal will affect others. Addressing all of those issues is daunting, but you can get the answers from people who work with them daily. Get out there, make friends with people in other departments. As you’re working on your proposal, talk about it with them. See if it causes any problems in their department. Ask how they can be fixed and if they can support that solution. Now, when you approach your chain of command, you can show that you understand the perspective of others and you’re working with them on the solution.

Chain of Command Benefit #3: Prepare Yourself to be a Boss

Developing your critical thinking and building these relationships provides a third benefit. All this effort and experience is preparing you to be a boss someday. Learning about the problems that the leaders up your chain have gets you thinking about them today and how you might solve them if you were in their position. Having the relationships with other departments already in place will smooth your transition into a position of more responsibility.

So those are the 3 ways you can think about how working through your chain of command benefits you instead of thinking of it as a burden. This still applied even if you don’t plan to stay in your current company forever. If you change jobs you’ll still have the critical thinking and relationship building skills that will help you be one of the great leaders of tomorrow!

 

Challenging the status-quo often runs into cultural norms and perspectives that have been in place in the organization for a very long time. Asking our team to change the way they do things, where they sit, or who they work with is often like asking people to change their identity. This kind of change is understandable very difficult for most people. As leaders, we need to recognize just how difficult this is and compassionately lead our team through the changes ahead. When we see an area that needs improvement, asking a few key questions before making any changes can help determine if change is necessary and how to get our team through it.

Status-Quo – How to Keep it from Holding You Back

“That’s the way we’ve always done it.” I’ve fought against those words for most of my career.  As leaders we often want to improve our teams and keep them from being held back by outdated practices. I know how it feels to come up against the resistance from others when we see better ways of accomplishing our mission. When we challenge the status-quo, it’s usually because we want to make things better for our team, not worse. If this is really our primary interest in making a change, then it’s helpful for us to understand what causes this resistance and makes the status-quo so powerful.

Challenging the status-quo often runs into cultural norms and perspectives that have been in place in the organization for a very long time. Asking our team to change the way they do things, where they sit, or who they work with is often like asking people to change their identity. This kind of change is understandable very difficult for most people. As leaders, we need to recognize just how difficult this is and compassionately  lead our team through the changes ahead. When we see an area that needs improvement, asking a few key questions before making any changes can help determine if change is necessary and how to get our team through it.

Questions for Challenging the Status-Quo

  • “What if?” helps us to think about outcomes that might be better than the current outcomes
  • “Why?” helps us to identify challenges we may face as we try to bring about change 
  • “Who? Where? When? How?” help us put together details that will make the change a reality

It’s possible to answer these questions and decide that no changes to the status-quo are necessary at this time. Also, we could decide that the solution will create so much dissatisfaction that an alternate solution might be better. Change for the sake of change has destroyed many teams even though the intentions behind it were initially very good.

The take-home lesson today is that even though change is difficult for many people, as leaders, we can’t be afraid to challenge long-held ideas or practices that no longer serve our mission. We must approach change in a thoughtful and empathetic way to get the improvement we are looking for.

This week we're going to shift the focus to a way that we can act courageously to complement the mindset we've started to develop. Avoiding groupthink is a problem that every team faces and it takes courageous leaders and followers to point out when it occurs and correct it.

Avoiding Groupthink – Video Guide

I hope everyone had a peaceful Memorial Day weekend and got to spend time with family and friends as we all remember the sacrifices that great men and women made in service of our nation. We’re wrapping up our month discussing topics about being courageous leaders. So far we’ve mostly talked about how to get in a healthy frame of mind to help us act courageously so that we can solve problems and make decisions courageously. This week we’re going to shift the focus to a way that we can act courageously to complement the mindset we’ve started to develop. Avoiding groupthink is a problem that every team faces and it takes courageous leaders and followers to point out when it occurs and correct it.

Groupthink occurs when members of the team are afraid to speak up or hold back information that is critical to the discussion because there may be social consequences for speaking out against the group. It can be very challenging for many people to contradict a position that the group has arrived at, especially if we are new in the group or we think that what we have to say will be unpopular with the other team members. As leaders, our job is to watch out for groupthink on out teams and cut through it to make sure that we’re getting all of the relevant information to make decisions.

In this week’s video, Jason discusses why avoiding groupthink is important for every team and describes some methods that we can use to recognize and avoid groupthink.

Avoiding Groupthink as Team Members

  • Speak up!
  • Include all relevant information
  • Be respectful of others
  • Employ Intellectual Honesty
  • Encourage others to speak up

Avoiding Groupthink as Leaders

  • Be prepared and research the topic
  • Understand different stakeholder interests
  • Insist that assertions are supported with evidence
  • Ask probing questions
  • Actively solicit information and perspective from quiet individuals
  • Consider the decision carefully before implementing

It’s also true that in many cases a group can reach a decision with a consensus without getting caught up in groupthink. Just because our team might come to an answer quickly and unanimously doesn’t mean that we have encountered a groupthink situation. As leaders, what we really want to ensure is that the group arrived at the result through a rational decision-making process and employed intellectual honesty in coming to a resolution.

Photo Credit: By Shane T. McCoy (U.S. Marshals Office of Public Affairs) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As we continue with our May theme of Courageous Leadership, this week Jason talks about the idea of intellectual honesty and how it is different from simply telling the truth. Intellectual honesty has a basis in problem solving but can be applied to make well-informed decisions in a variety of leadership situations. Striving to be intellectually honest helps us ensure that we have considered all factors when making a leadership decision. Developing our team members to be intellectually honest gives them the ability to provide depth to their work that will lead to solid decision making. In the video, Jason talks about how to differentiate between our interests and our positions and how that distinction relates to intellectual honesty.

Intellectual Honesty – Video Guide

As we continue with our May theme of Courageous Leadership, this week Jason talks about the idea of intellectual honesty and how it is different from simply telling the truth. Intellectual honesty has a basis in problem solving but can be applied to make well-informed decisions in a variety of leadership situations. Striving to be intellectually honest helps us ensure that we have considered all factors when making a leadership decision. Developing our team members to be intellectually honest gives them the ability to provide depth to their work that will lead to solid decision-making. In the video, Jason talks about how to differentiate between our interests and our positions and how that distinction relates to intellectual honesty.

Components of Intellectual Honesty

  • Not letting beliefs interfere with seeing the truth
  • Including all relevant facts in our decision
  • Presenting facts to others without bias or misleading
  • Giving credit to others for their work

Source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_honesty

Being aware of these concepts as well as our own biases helps us to make decisions based on all of the relevant facts and not just on the ones that support our position while leaving out facts that go against our argument. Even if we are not the decision maker, we can apply the principles of intellectual honesty when we present information to others who are making a leadership decision.

Jason goes on to talk about some practical tips you can use from Good to Great by Jim Collins in order to help you and your team adopt the principles of intellectual honesty in your day-to-day activities. Applying intellectually honest principles to our information gathering and decision-making processes helps us to make better decisions that stand up to external scrutiny and stand the test of time.

Photo Credit: By European People’s Party [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A common misconception is that someone is either a leader or a follower. The reality is that most of us engage in both followership and leadership at the same time. We may lead our team, but have to answer to another leader in our organization. Even CEOs and business owners often have a board or shareholders that they are accountable to. The good news about this dual nature that we find ourselves in is that the qualities that make a good follower are ones that help develop us to become great leaders. Patience, respect and trust are three of these traits.

Followership and Leadership – 3 Traits That Help Us with Both

A common misconception is that someone is either a leader or a follower. The reality is that most of us engage in both followership and leadership at the same time. We may lead our team, but have to answer to another leader in our organization. Even CEOs and business owners often have a board or shareholders that they are accountable to. The good news about this dual nature that we find ourselves in is that the qualities that make a good follower are ones that help develop us to become great leaders. Patience, respect and trust are three of these traits.

Patience in Followership and Leadership

Patience is essential to achieving our goals. While it’s important to hustle and work hard, it’s also important to take some time to see if our actions are having the desired effect. Not all reactions to our actions are immediate and making adjustments to our plans too quickly can have more detrimental effects than staying the course.

As followers, exercising some patience with those who lead us allows them time to be deliberate and think through a problem in their decision-making process. While we may be anxious to start implementing the solution we have proposed to whatever issue is facing our organization, giving our leadership time to thoroughly consider options and impacts on the organization will ultimately result in better solutions. On a more personal note, having patience allows us to appreciate the moments when there isn’t a major intense crisis going on.

Great leaders recognize that being patient allows us to take time to let our initiatives and decisions work before correcting. Often implementing the solution to a problem is like trying to turn a very large ship around. After we start to turn the wheel, it will take some time and distance before we’ll see the ship start to turn. It will turn slowly at first, but eventually we’ll be headed in the direction we want. If we aren’t patient and turn too hard to make the ship turn faster, we will overshoot the course we want to be on and have to correct back to get back on course. Showing patience with the members of our team as they work through problems gives them more opportunities to grow and develop than if we hand them our preferred solution up front.

Respect – A Two-Way Street

Respect is key to building strong professional relationships among teams and between leaders and followers. Without respect, individuals can feel alienated and start to act in their own interests instead of those of the team or accomplishing the mission. When we are a member of a team and a good follower, showing respect for others on the team and our team leader creates an environment where it is safe for individuals to share their ideas and build upon them. Fostering respect on the team ultimately results in optimized processes and operations that help us better achieve our mission. Team leaders are responsible to build this culture of respect by setting the example of respectful behavior. Allowing individuals to present their ideas and be given full consideration goes a long way towards building respect among the team. As leaders, one of the best ways we can foster respect on our team is to provide constructive feedback and insisting the other members of the team do the same, even if the ideas presented are not fully formed or on the mark.

Trust

Much like respect, trust is essential to a team that wants to perform at the highest levels. Having trust in others on our team means letting them engage in their part of the effort without judgment. They may not do the job the way we would do it or as effectively as we think they should, but if the team is meeting the goals and accomplishing the mission, we can trust them to do their part. If we are team leaders and there is a lack of trust on our team, members start to hold back on ideas, engage in private conversations that don’t include all stakeholders and jockey for favor. When the team doesn’t have trust in their leader, individuals may put forth only the bare minimum effort or, in some cases, actively work against the leader or go over their head to higher management. Building trust in our teams involves letting people make mistakes and correct the situation. Leaders will always need to provide corrective feedback and in some cases remove a team member who is not performing, but having trust in our team members when they are making good faith efforts to contribute will build a stronger team that shows initiative and puts in the extra work when it is needed.

Patience, respect and trust are key traits that are needed by both followers and leaders to build successful, high-performing teams. We can actively become better followers and leaders at the same time by consciously exhibiting behaviors that are consistent with all three of these qualities.

Tell us in the comments what other good follower traits help with developing our leadership skills.

Photo Credit: By Thomas Wilson Pratt Slatin, http://www.tomslatin.com/ (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

We all know the importance of good followership and showing trust and respect for the leaders who are appointed above us in our organizations. Sometimes we can experience an internal conflict when we disagree with a decision that our boss has made. We want to be good followers and support the decision, but also are concerned that the decision might actually prevent our organization from effectively accomplishing the mission. A tool that we have to deal with this is called the "One Challenge Rule" and it gives us an opportunity to respectfully approach the boss to voice our concerns. Used effectively, the One Challenge Rule lets us demonstrate good followership in a tough situation while still helping us look out for the best interests of our organization.

Good Followership

It’s pretty hard to come up with the name of a leader who started out at the top of their field. Almost everyone that we would consider to be a great leader started at some kind of entry level position and developed their leadership skills and technical expertise in order to gain positions of increasing responsibility. Working for other leaders gives us an opportunity to study leadership and develop our own leadership philosophy and style by observing the way others lead. Exercising good followership in our organizations is just as important to our professional development as looking for opportunities to lead others.

Good Followership and the One Challenge Rule

We all know the importance of good followership and showing trust and respect for the leaders who are appointed above us in our organizations. Sometimes we can experience an internal conflict when we disagree with a decision that our boss has made. We want to be good followers and support the decision, but also are concerned that the decision might actually prevent our organization from effectively accomplishing the mission. A tool that we have to deal with this is called the “One Challenge Rule” and it gives us an opportunity to respectfully approach the boss to voice our concerns. Used effectively, the One Challenge Rule lets us demonstrate good followership in a tough situation while still helping us look out for the best interests of our organization.

If we find our opportunities to lead limited in our workplace, there are other places we can go to practice and develop our leadership skills. Our communities are in need of leadership at all levels in a variety of organizations.

Finding Opportunities to Lead in Our Communities

One universal truth that I have found about leaders is that once we have committed ourselves to the study and discipline of leadership, we are always looking for more opportunities to lead and make a difference. We start to develop a talent for seeing ways to improve products, services or experiences in ways that make our customers, co-workers and even our own lives better. We become focused on improving ourselves and our environments but we can often run into roadblocks when looking for leadership opportunities in the workplace. Our employers have set certain priorities for the organization (rightly so) and often we don’t get opportunities to develop our leadership skills as quickly as we would like. In the best cases, employers who believe in developing the leadership abilities of their employees are trying to develop all of their people, so we have to share the leadership opportunities with others and in many cases compete to lead the best projects. In the worst cases, employers just don’t care about developing leadership on their teams and there are few opportunities. Just as it is important to be good leaders we need to be good followers and trust the judgment and priorities of the leaders above us. Although we may feel underutilized as leaders in our workplaces, there is a solution to developing your leadership skills outside of work.

Seeking Other Opportunities to Lead

If we find our opportunities to lead limited in our workplace, there are other places we can go to practice and develop our leadership skills. Our communities are in need of leadership at all levels in a variety of organizations. There are any number of groups such as schools, churches, business organizations, youth groups or even sports or recreational groups that are always looking for people to step up and take charge of projects they want to get done. Many of the groups in our communities are understaffed and while they may have a number of volunteers to participate in activities and projects, they are limited in how quickly they can accomplish their goals because they are in need of ambitious leaders to take charge of many of the projects and initiatives they want to accomplish in their community.

Getting Started with Community Leadership

Start out by looking for a community organization that is a good fit for you. Look around at several groups in your area and find a group that fits your interests and core values. The idea is to connect with other people who are making a difference in the community in a way that resonates with you. Much like starting a business or making your workplace better, think or a problem that you’d like to see solved in your community and find a group that works on solving that problem. If you don’t consider the organizational goals and values before you join, you may find yourself struggling to lead a project you don’t believe in which can leave you as frustrated as you are at your workplace. You may have to pay your dues for a little while in your new community organization, again followership is important, but showing initiative and taking on a project that the group needs to have done will give you some valuable experience in leading others.

You’ll often have to lead people who are committing their extra time and they may not be able to contribute as much time as they would like to. You’ll have to be very organized and have a plan to recruit enough people to your project to make sure you can meet your goals. You may even have to be responsible for raising money and managing other financial resources. One of the things that you will find if you are leading a community or volunteer group is that you will be working with people who come with varying levels of skill and ability. This will really force you to think about your philosophy and methods for training and developing others to be able to perform their roles in the organization and how much supervision you really want to have to give them on a regular basis. Also, because many people in community groups are volunteers you won’t have any direct authority over them to influence their contributions. You’ll have to get very good at your soft skills like communication, empathy, persuasion and negotiation to bring all of these volunteers together to achieve your goals.

Finally, even if you are getting all of the leadership opportunities that you want in your workplace, consider taking on a leadership role in a community organization. Giving back to our community helps solves the problems that our friends and neighbors face, makes our communities more livable and warmer and better places. It also makes us feel better about ourselves and give us some satisfaction from bringing some good into the world.

Tell us in the comments where you seek your additional opportunities to lead.

 

Photo Credit: By Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret (https://www.dvidshub.net/image/1352630) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Innovate in a Stagnant Environment

Innovate in a Stagnant Environment – Here’s How!

Every boss claims they want innovation, but many don’t live up to the words they preach. For some it may be an aversion to risk, for others it may be out of their comfort zone to make improvements when the status quo is already working. How can we continue to innovate and improve our products and team members’ professional lives when faced with stagnation or resistance? How do we help improve the organization while still being good followers to senior leadership that is reluctant to innovate?

Small Changes/Small Victories

The most effective thing we can do is make small improvements that are within our own authority. Listen to your own team and see what suggestions they have that sound like they will make even minor improvements to effectiveness, productivity or communication. If it’s within your own purview to make the change on your team, go ahead and do it. Set a short fixed timeframe (a week, a month, 3 months) to evaluate it and the next leader in your chain know that you’re doing a trial evaluation of the initiative and you’ll let them know the results when it’s over. If it turns out to be unsuccessful, return to the old way of doing things and call it a learning experience. If it does work, share your results with your peers and other team leads.

Choose your opportunities wisely

There may be times when very senior leaders put out a call for innovative ideas or ask informally how you think the organization should be improved. These can be great opportunities if handled properly, but dangerous traps if they aren’t. Don’t leave your boss out in the cold when these situations arise. By pulling your boss in you can show that you have fresh ideas for the company but also show him and his superiors that you are looking out for all of them and trying to find ways to solve their problems. It can be as simple as telling that senior leader, “I have this great idea about X and my boss and I will get on your calendar to come fill you in on the details when you are available.”

Show the impact!

Showing tangible improvements is the best way to make sure your innovative ideas get adopted across the organization. If you can show a reduced cost, shorter time, or higher performance as a result of your initiative you’ll have strong evidence that you and your team have the organization’s best interest in mind. Being able to use metrics and data helps make your case, but be sure that you’re using the right metrics to show cause and effect. Many people lose credibility by trying to force data to fit their conclusions or apply metrics they don’t really understand to the situation. One of the best questions you can ask yourself before adopting an innovative idea is “How will I know this is successful and how can I measure it?”

These are ways I’ve seen innovation be successfully implemented from the bottom up, but the results may vary in your organization. If you think that these steps might work for you, but you want to talk through your strategy and the personalities involved with someone before taking the big step, feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to discuss and see if we can set you and your boss up for success!

 

Photo Credit: Alexander Blum (www.alexanderblum.de) [Attribution], <a href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AStau.jpg”>via Wikimedia Commons</a>

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