LinkedIn provides community knowledge in leadership based on insights and advice from people with real-life experiences.
- Vision and Goals
- How can you use your vision and strategy to strengthen team relationships?
- What steps can you take to ensure your team understands your vision and strategy?
- How can innovation be used to develop a strategic vision for leadership?
- Motivation and Communication
- How can you use active listening to build stronger relationships with stakeholders?
- How can leaders address conflicts caused by miscommunication?
- How can you facilitate tough conversations in a group setting?
- How can you influence an unengaged team to achieve success?
- How can you encourage your team to use failure as a stepping stone to innovation and creativity?
- What are some ways to create a fun and engaging team environment for better motivation?
- How can you convince skeptical team members of the benefits of organizational change?
- Results and Execution
- How can feedback build accountability and ownership?
- What are the best ways to lead by example?
- How can you handle irrelevant agenda items in meetings?
- Why is having an agenda critical for effective meetings?
- How can you promote cross-functional decision-making?
- People Development
You can promote cross-functional decision-making by:
- Fostering a continuous improvement mindset
- Adopting agile practices across teams
- Mapping value streams to analyze/improve operations
- Reducing bottlenecks that constrain throughput
- Understanding customer & market dynamics
- Measuring actionable metrics for desired outcomes
- Organizing teams around the end-to-end flow of value
- Ignoring sunk costs to focus on future change
In my experience, metrics & customer feedback are key to cross-functional decision-making. Scaled agile/customer-centric frameworks enable organizational agility for people, operations & strategy. Organizing teams into operational and development value streams helps us innovate and deliver business solutions.
Having an agenda is critical for effective meetings because it helps ensure that discussions are focused, productive, and relevant to the meeting objectives to facilitate decision-making.
Best practices include:
- Share the agenda with attendees prior to the meeting
- Allocate specific time frames for each item
- Follow-up with notes, action items & decisions made for each item
When I host meetings, I always include an agenda when I send calendar invites. I share any documents to review at least an hour before the meeting starts. I also follow up with notes and action items, which include the task, owner, and ETA.
In order to convince skeptical team members of the benefits of organizational change, transformational leadership requires:
- Purpose: visionary thinking & courage to align decisions & interactions
- Clarity: expectations for performance, behaviors
- Transparency: performance data & tools to do work
- Accountability: autonomy to make decisions
- Development: training, new technologies & incentives
- Culture: listen to - and act on - suggestions
After developing a new payroll service for my company, I partnered with stakeholders to migrate its employees and customers over from the legacy platform. In addition to a shared purpose and training, organizational change required clarity, transparency, accountability, and an innovation culture.
The purpose of agenda items is to ensure that discussions are focused, productive, and relevant to the meeting objectives.
An effective way to ensure that agenda items are relevant is for hosts to share them in advance of the meeting. Earlier in my career, I learned this tactic from coworkers who would not attend a meeting unless the agenda was shared in advance. This gives leaders the opportunity to simply not attend or send feedback so that the host can take corrective action prior to the meeting.
During a meeting, corrective actions can be to skip them, place them in a "parking lot", or redirect to a relevant topic. A post-meeting discussion with the host helps ensure alignment and clarity around the meeting objectives.
Innovation is core to developing a strategic vision, which highlights an organization's values, purposes, and goals for achieving a desirable future state. The challenge is ensuring that an innovation will delight customers and help the organization achieve its objectives.
Innovations come from a variety of practices, such as experiments, feedback, or customer interactions. Defining the desired future state is key to getting support for innovations, but you need to also connect these ideas to your organization's values, purposes, and goals.
For example, I presented our innovative ideas as opportunities to achieve business goals for market coverage, accuracy, and automation in order to develop and get support for our strategic vision.
In addition to articulating the needs/purpose for the future state mapped to strategic themes/goals, you can ensure teams understand your vision and strategy with the following:
- Roadmap: a plan of action for how your vision will evolve over time, including features/initiatives, timelines & budgets
- Solution Intent: implementation guidelines for vision via requirements, design, tests & backlogs
- Agile Frameworks: continuous & iterative activities to ensure vision clarity, alignment, commitment, engagement & reinforcement
In my experience, you must balance inspiration (rationale/motivation) with a well-defined path forward (roadmap, intent, frameworks) in order to clearly articulate and achieve a shared vision & strategy with your teams.
Per Mike "Coach K" Krzyzewski, Professor of the Practice of Leadership at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, difficult conversations are about holding people accountable and telling them the truth. He believes difficult conversations are necessary for life, especially for leaders, and don’t occur nearly enough.
You can facilitate tough conversations as the speaker in a group setting by being comfortable, confident, conversational, and empathetic.
Best practices include:
- Prepare major points in advance
- Keep your emotions in check
- Give others the benefit of the doubt
- Tailor speech to the audience
- Focus points on the "why" to help them improve
- Provide listeners time & space to process
- Reschedule meetings as needed
You can create a fun and engaging environment to motivate your team by making them feel connected, valued, and fulfilled.
- Build cross-functional relationships through interactions, charm & respect
- Create a collaborative culture via lean/agile
- Welcome feedback & encourage action
- Credit members that go above & beyond
- Encourage ownership, risks & problem-solving
- Continuously improve & push to do better
For teams I've managed, I focus on outcomes (vs. outputs) that are connected to cross-functional teams through our corporate mission and business goals. I give credit in open forums and push individuals to do better in 1-on-1s. These practices help my team feel connected, valued, and fulfilled.
The best way to lead by example is to continuously strive to embody the behaviors, values, and attitudes you want to see in your team that guide your organization in everything it does.
Leading by example is not about being perfect, doing everything your team can do, or micro-managing their tasks. It is about inspiring and motivating others to be their best and creating a culture of continuous improvement.
For example, I designed/prototyped a crowdsourced review service, which embodied the company's values of customer focus & curiosity, so that my operations team could focus on more meaningful work. After setting success metrics, technology developed a long-term solution to automate reviews, supported by my data science & operations team.
Leaders can address conflicts caused by miscommunication by using empathy as a path to productive conversions to:
- Lay the foundation for positive communication by observing, listening, and asking questions
- Assess coworkers' communication needs (introverts vs. extroverts, emotional considerations, intellectual level)
- Evaluate your communication styles (perceived vs accurate, feedback, behaviors)
- Engage in difficult conversions by managing your emotions, listening, communicating with respect, and defining action items
In my experience, miscommunication is often the source of workplace conflict, productivity loss, and damaged relationships. I've made time to empathetically unblock these obstacles to cross-functional collaboration.
You can encourage your team to use failure as a stepping stone to innovation and creativity by encouraging:
- A customer-focused mindset
- Acceptance of failure
- Continuous learning from pain points
- Acting on these insights
Teams can develop innovative solutions by creatively working backwards from customers' pain points.
When my company's online banking app banned marketing messages to customers, my campaign management platform was rendered obsolete. I used this failure to define a new vision, which my team used as a stepping stone to enhance our platform to deliver in-app servicing and engagement messages. We creatively found ways to support these new use cases via real-time customer data, rule-based optimization, and API services.
Feedback can build accountability by helping people understand the consequences of the actions or decisions for their work through self-reflection.
Feedback can also build ownership by clarifying expectations/goals, reinforcing purpose/value, highlighting strengths/accomplishments, and identifying opportunities for improvement.
In my experience, continuously collecting, analyzing, and acting on feedback from customers and employees is integral to ensuring you create value. Examples include:
- 360 feedback
- Voice of the customer
- Agile retrospectives
- Stakeholder feedback
- User research
- Performance reviews
- Compliance reviews
At Amazon, I had a personal weekly goal to collect and apply learnings from direct customer feedback.
You can use your vision and strategy to strengthen team relationships by giving them a guiding purpose to align decisions and interactions in a shared pursuit of value-creation activities.
A vision provides long-term context for short-term decisions in a thoughtful manner, articulating the guiding needs and why the future state is worth achieving. A strategy motivates teams to engage each other by mapping the vision to strategic themes and enterprise/team goals.
At my companies, we define our vision and strategic goals each year and then continuously refine/present our vision to align teams for iterative releases throughout the year. This process strengthens team relationships through customer-centric thinking and lean/agile interactions.
You can influence an unengaged team to achieve success by asking if they're all right and how can you help them.
Empathy for an unengaged team helps you to:
- Understand what makes them tick
- Leverage this knowledge to motivate them
- Remove obstacles that prevent them from engaging
- Come up with creative, long-term solutions to the deeper problems causing their disengagement
When my operations team was disengaged with their responsibility for manual display advertising reviews, I empathized with their disdain for the monotonous, repetitive nature of this work. We then collaboratively worked to define and deliver crowdsourced and automated solutions so that they could focus on customer investigations and cross-team collaborations.
You can use active listening to build stronger relationships with stakeholders by being:
- Present and engaged: build relationships through interactions, communications, and charm
- Empathetic: understand who your stakeholders are, what they need, and how to talk to them
- Responsive: listen to and act on stakeholder feedback
- Respectful: cultivate through trust, teamwork, inclusion, mentoring, and partnerships
When meeting with stakeholders, I always share the agenda in advance and follow-up with a bulleted list of notes, action items (with task, owner, and due date), and a wiki page link for additional details. These practices encourage active listening by being present, engaged, empathetic, responsive, and respectful to stakeholders.