A key skill for today’s leaders is to learn how to enable teams to take initiative and make decisions so that they can adapt quickly as things change.
This is a primary theme of General Stanley McChrystal’s book, Team of Teams, New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, in which he lays out the tactics he’s used to empower subordinates to take the initiative and make decisions.
His advice goes far beyond military situations. Across industries, the business environment is changing at a rapid pace due to the adoption of mobile devices and the social sharing of information.
Teams that are unable to adapt quickly are not prepared for the challenges when they arise – whether we’re talking about a retail organization, a financial institution or a law firm. This is a key tenet for all organizations to keep in mind, regardless of size or industry.
Here are three key things you need to do to enable your teams.
Ensure overall alignment
In his book, Gen. McChrystal refers to team alignment as “shared consciousness.” In other words, leaders must have clear goals and everyone needs to be on the same page, without any confusion.
To accomplish this, there must be transparency, information sharing and trust.
A few months ago, my team at FileMaker organized over 130 events in 12 countries. This event series was a great opportunity so we focused on making the most of it. To succeed in this undertaking, frequent communication was a necessity, taking place through video conferencing and face-to-face meetings.
When goals are in alignment and your team has established a shared consciousness, your team can drive what matters the most. It allows your team to collaborate fully and therefore drive to the core mission of the team. A clear team mission helps everyone evaluate together how to respond to a change in the environment, be it a windfall or a pitfall.
The importance of information sharing cannot be overemphasized. By following this leadership model, you ensure your team, especially those who are closest to the problem, to have the information they need to solve problems as they arise.
This can be accomplished in different ways. For our recent project described above, my team created a central repository – in this case, an event management website – to capture all of the information. The planning was led by a cross functional producer whose role it was to empower the rest of the team by ensuring everyone involved had all the information they needed at all times, so they could collaborate and assess opportunities and risks in real-time.
Provide modern tools
Tools can be as simple as old-fashioned whiteboards or spreadsheets. At FileMaker, we make a platform for creating custom apps. When it came to our own collaboration needs, it seemed a no-brainer to use the very tool we have right at hand. Thus, when it came time to create a new product plus services offering, the team created their own custom app using FileMaker to manage the process.
In our mobile world, you need a platform for your team to create custom apps that allow them to share information. The app should be able to be quickly modified by your team as new opportunities and challenges arise. When choosing a platform, select one that allows your team to use their expertise.
By ensuring that everyone is aligned, sharing information and providing modern tools, you can help ensure that your team succeeds in today’s complex world.
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