Grayline’s central focus is to help leaders and teams develop and implement data-informed strategic solutions in a rapidly changing world. It’s one thing to see a problem, and it’s an entirely different challenge to execute the change needed throughout an organization to make a lasting difference.
I have been working on these challenges with groups across several sectors, and I want to share the trends I’ve seen emerging in recent engagements and keynotes in Columbus, New York, Nashville, and Austin.
The Importance of Leadership
Both the private and public sectors are witnessing changes to existing business models and governing procedures that are being disrupted by technology and non-traditional players. In our sessions, it’s not long before we get to a critical issue—that leaders too often pay lip-service to change without really implementing new practices to sustain it.
In the end, people will be what they can see. And, all too often, leaders are unprepared to lead as role models. As individuals and in groups, humans generally like to “go along to get along.” We don’t like to stand apart from the group, and very few of us race toward change, especially when it conveys risk.
Therefore, one of the most consistent themes we explore is the importance of leadership, ensuring that the change an organization needs remains visible and achievable at all levels. Without a consistent leadership template and example, teams will perceive change as a PR stunt, seriously deteriorating progress toward new goals, new products, and new success.
Metrics and Effective Measurement
Another often overlooked area of importance is deciding what to measure in strategy and progress. This is often tough to resolve because it usually takes an outsider to challenge “why” you are measuring a certain statistic, and to what purpose.
In transportation, for example, groups too often measure total vehicles. It’s not uncommon for government entities to measure “services provided.” And in the energy sector, total energy output is often discussed as a success metric. Whether coaching teams or mentoring executives, I ask the larger question: “For what purpose?”
If you keep hearing “why” from your teams, it’s a useful exercise to get to the larger purpose. When delivering a mission statement in military planning, purpose is described as more important than the task. By choosing the right metrics, a purpose can be achieved more quickly in any field introducing a new strategy or reaching a new goal.
Third, in implementing new strategy, leadership must properly align incentives to make sure everyone is working towards the same goal. Nothing is worse for an organization (of any size) than to have people on the team working in different directions because of misaligned incentives.
It can be as simple as a leader who seeks to improve overall corporate well-being by offering healthy alternatives in the breakroom while guiding the team through some tough transitions. Incentives matter, and they must be aligned to achieve a goal more quickly.
As laid out in our book Catalyst, change is hard. Identifying the need to change is hard. Implementing change is even harder. With the right role model, purpose-driven metrics, and aligned incentives, leaders can guide teams in the same direction—and achieve needed change more quickly.
Feel free to reach out with your thoughts and experiences on the subject. More importantly, please invite me and the rest of the Grayline team in to help you think through the leadership model, strategy, and metrics you need going forward.