The philosophy of leading up is something that I experimented with many years ago and had a lot of success with in building a trusting and productive working relationship with my long-time assistant. I am now in the process of implementing a leading up model throughout my entire company in order to improve our overall communication, getting the team to think more strategic, improve decision making processes and to empower all our team members to act more decisively when it comes to how we interact and manage our customers.
The leading up philosophy is based on a premise that the people who know best are the people doing the work, those in the trenches who may be making decisions or maybe not, which is affecting customer service. A major component of leading up means that if the subordinate and the manager have a trusted working relationship the subordinate is free to disagree, advise and guide the manager to more effective and productive decisions. This also means that managers have to be open to and willing to listen, productively debate wide-ranging issues in order to find solutions that are not only good for the client but good for the company in general.
A couple key components that I have seen work very effectively starts with inclusion, which basically means employees have to be included in meetings that are going to directly affect them and their work processes. Basically, the thought is that if they are going to be held accountable for the implementation of a strategic initiative than they should be included in all the meetings where those strategic processes are discussed. Being included in the process of conception of the idea, development, action and then implantation of a new process or fixing an old one is key to the employees’ ability to understand, have input, then being held accountable to the new processes or strategic initiative. Secondly, is the documentation and distribution of the information to the entire team, which would include a method to respond to the initiative which could then open up new avenues for discussion as that relevant feedback comes back from the entire team.
Some of the other key ingredients to successful leading up strategies according to Steve Earley CEO of Cross Company are:
- Honesty and Integrity, for a leader to instill a true Leading up philosophy the people whom you are trying to lead have to believe that the leadership on all levels is being honest and open with them. Which is why I feel that the inclusion process is so important, then the employees see that there are no hidden management agendas and the leadership through inclusion is showing that they are trustworthy. It also shows that the process of accountability applies throughout the entire organization to all levels.
- Outstanding Self Awareness, I have always felt that I have great self-awareness not only do I understand my own shortcomings I admit them to my team, make them aware, and acknowledge them when they get the best of me. However, also include my team in my journey to correct and improve on my shortcomings. Leading up will not work if the leadership does not have a full understanding of their strengths and weaknesses because a fundamental foundation of the Leading up philosophy is that both the leadership and the employees understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and then manage each other to the strengths and fill the gaps in the weaknesses to form a strong cohesive team.
- Vision, for a successful leading up strategy the leadership has to remain focused on the overall strategic plan for the business and not get caught up in the individual tasks. Leaders have to present to the team a clear road map of goals and objectives that guide the employees in the effort to implement the strategic initiatives. However, the initiatives have to be representative of a rational path, that is achievable and sustainable based on your target customer base and the value that your business brings to that customer base.
- Courage, what does it really mean to have courage? Courage could also mean self-confident, decisive, willingness to take risks even when logic may dictate otherwise, it could also mean a willingness to go it alone. However, with all that said it is also important for leaders to not allow courage to be confused with arrogance because that would not allow for trust or a successful leading up strategy. Courage could also mean humility, caring, understanding, and willingness to allow others to express honest opinions and guidance. This doesn't mean that there is no conflict, disagreement or at the end of the day the requirement that leaders have to make a decision but it does mean that you have the conversation.
There are many aspects to a leading up strategy this is just a starting point something to maybe get you curious about how to implement a leading up strategy within your own company. I will be writing more about Leading up and how to implement this strategy within your business to improve the overall customer experience in upcoming articles.
By Scott M. Lewis, President / CEO Winning Technologies, Inc.
About the Author: Scott Lewis is the President and CEO of Winning Technologies Group of Companies. Scott has more than 30 years of experience in the technology industry and is a nationally recognized speaker and author on technology subjects. Scott has worked with large and small business to empower them to use technology to improve work processes, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Scott has designed thousands of systems for large, medium and small companies and Winning Technologies goal is to work with companies on the selection, implementation, management and support of technology resources.