A little over a decade ago I found my passion in the areas of leadership development, organizational health, and personal & professional growth when I went to work for Inc. Magazine’s current #1 Leadership and Management guru Dr. John C. Maxwell.
My role at the time was Director of Corporate sales in charge of business development for the newly minted corporate training offering. It was an exciting time because of all of the new things that I was learning and all of the great people I was privileged to be around.
I simply fell in love with the people. Many of those co-workers, clients, and associates are still friends today. And many have gone on to outstanding careers and have done amazing things.
It’s About People
What I learned from that time is the importance of understanding people in the deepest sense. I learned what drove people. I learned how to truly serve people. I learned that much of life boils downs to what people,on their individual, rock-bottom level, value in their lives.
I learned that values drive decisions; decisions drive behaviors; and behaviors drive results.
This understanding of people on an individual level has led me to be much more sensitive to people that I lead; the people that I serve. I have lost my myopic view of life and now see how things really work. I see that people are wondrously purposeful beings and often just need some vision, guidance, or help to achieve great things. And it is in the simple act of helping people get things done that defines my leadership.
Recently, I put this philosophy to the test with a recent change initiative announced to a large virtual group on LinkedIn that I lead.
Change is a Comin’
I lead a large private group on LinkedIn for the last 6 years called Linked 2 Leadership. We grow at the rate of about 100 new members per week and we now have over 27,000+ members who are dedicated to help global professionals learn, grow, and develop other leaders.
In a LinkedIn group, one of the most valuable tools is the Discussion Area. Unfortunately, the Discussion Area can quickly turn into an unwelcome place when people use it for spammy self-promotion, for “READ MY AWESOME BLOG!” entries, or for forwarding the latest Fast Company article.
With this unfocused and un-monitored approach, any true discussions become few and far between. This happened to L2L. The playground was just too crowded with bullies and we needed to make some drastic changes.
To remedy this increasing trend, my group moderators and I discussed what we thought the Discussion Area should be. But better than that, we designed a questionnaire to find out the good, the bad, and the really bad. Then we distributed the survey to the group members to get their opinions.
Being Inclusive and Interested
Deciding to INCLUDE the group in our new direction by asking their opinions was on target: In just over a day, we received 700 responses from people who took, on average, 12-minutes to fill out the questionnaire.
Many of the responses where passionate and provided us a lot of information. Many members commented that they really appreciated having their voice be heard.
>>> Values Drive Decisions
With our survey results in hand, it was easy to see how to design new rules for the Discussion Area that keeps the playground clean, fresh, and safe for everyone to play. (See “Anatomy of a Proper L2L Discussion“)
Now that we know what our group values in terms of a properly run Discussion Area, we were able to decide what we are going to be as a group and tailor the experience by only allowing certain type of discussions to be approved.
>>> Decisions Drive Behaviors
With such a large group, the Discussion Area needs group moderators to filter through all of the submissions. So an open call went out to the group explaining the need for a few “L2L Deputy Sheriffs” to patrol the playground and make sure everybody was playing nicely.
We immediately had over 30 applicants from around the globe interested in devoting their free time to serving in our new mission. (See the application.)
Presently, we are in the process of reviewing the applications now and are designing plans to implement our new rules with fresh new eyes and energy dedicated to a better future.
>>> Behaviors Drive Results
In the coming weeks, our new Deputy Sheriffs will be trained on best-practices for evaluatingand approving discussions. They will comb through each submission and decide if it is what we want in our Discussion Area or not. We will delete many and move many others to our promotions or jobs area.
Effective leaders must inspect what they expect.
Dedication to Excellence
In leading this new team of Group Moderators, I must be mindful that they are motivated by a calling and dedication to excellence. They are not being paid for their new role, nor are they materially compensated in any way. They want to be part of something meaningful and want their efforts to matter.
My leadership over this process will be the key to success. If I get off-target, you can guess what will happen. However, if I execute the plan as designed, properly train my new team, and continue to monitor efforts and results, you can also guess where that might lead.
Leading people and influencing teams is not complex when you break things down to the essentials and simply stay on target.
So what are you doing to know and understand the heartbeat of your team or group? How are you executing new visions or initiatives? Are you honoring the mission inspecting what you are expecting? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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