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The Importance of Information in the World of a C-Suite Leader

As a Leader, What Should Information Mean to You?

There are certain things that certain individuals know and certain things that no one speaks of when discussing management style or leadership qualities. No one tells you when you approach a room as a CEO, CFO, CIO, CTO or Chief of your discipline that you are solely responsible to know the value of information presented or what is missing from leadershippresentations. Most likely, you probably possess some really strong instincts or you would not this successful in your career and especially to the corporate title.  Over the years you have learned that there are ways to improve and there are ways to answer that predominant question that lies etched within your mind. Are they truly answering your question or are they giving you the data as they think you would want it?

Are you getting a full picture of what is occurring within your company or a biased version of information that is available? How can one make the best decision for an organization’s sustainable future with a limited representation of knowledge and corporate dynamics? Where does the true data lie? How do you know? Who is not willing to tell you something that they know will upset the apple cart but is in the company’s overall best interest?  If the information may be distinctly against something you believe it’s a career risk for your people to have you really listen.

Information is Power

Rather than being blinded by missing information you will create a better strategy with information readily available through your team that would include relevant industry, market and company data.

Here are steps you can put into action today to take responsibility to fully listen.  Lay out expectations that will meet the current demands of consuming data:

  1. Using too many formats to receive information – Continuity.   When you’re required to consume large amounts of data quickly informationand without error you can miss key elements when each piece comes in a different format.  Put the template together and publicize that.  The information will be more easily accessible, not only to you but to all.  Explain how many rounds before presenting the information to key stakeholders.
  2. Not enough time spent to deeply understand – Ensure that you have the head-space to consume the data, ask questions, sufficient time for others to ask questions, or go on tangents that add to the dialogue.  Anything that gets focus improves.  Give the hot topics time in addition to the problems.  We all have too many meetings, but what’s important and gets the time it needs will improve.
  3. Allocate time for preventive information.  Give clear direction that you want non-traditional information to stay ahead of the market without specific direction or expectations will yield the unexpected.
  4. Guiding the speaker toward the response requested.   Leading the witness is non-productive to get the real story.  If you’re asking the question with the answer embedded, then why waste anyone’s time by asking the question.  Send an email telling them what you want them to know. If you want creativity then leave it up to them.  Physics tells us nature abhors a vacuum so see what floods into the space.  You literally don’t have all the answers so ask open ended questions and then stay silent.
  5. Shutting down disagreement – without the language of conflict you’ll not hear the full story.  The nature of creativity is that you have to break something that exists to get something new.  How you bring that conflict to the table has to have a common, easily managementidentified way to disagree or challenge the information presented.
  6. Not being present in the room – Proximity is not the same as listening.  Undivided attention is not a gift it’s a responsible way to make use of company resources or dare I say assets?  Attention is essential to listening to consume the data presented.  Identify social norms or go ahead and call them rules.  Like no cell phones on the table without expressed reasoning or crisis management.
  7. Say no more than saying yes – Agree to what you can or ask open ended questions to keep the dialogue open.  If you want people to bring forward information then act like you appreciate the contribution when approached with information, data or ideas.  “I’ll give it some thought” is better than “no” or are “you kidding me?”   Unless of course it’s dangerous, ridiculous or could be an instant law suit.
  8. Talking – you can’t hear a thing when it’s your own voice.  I think that’s pretty obvious but worth considering.  Once you’ve laid out your expectations or social norms or template give someone else a chance.
  9. Late to every meeting – it’s not just a saying you might miss opportunities to connect with people who have information or need to be more comfortable with you to bring something forward.

In thinking through your management style and improving your leadership qualities it is up to you to be boldly honest.  What leadership skills do you need?  Who do you want working with you?  If you’re the smartest “guy” in the room then you’re not hiring right.   If you’re micro – managing you’re not hiring right.  If you want to get the best ideas and stay on the forefront of the industry leadershipseek diversity of thought through the people on your team.  The resource exists and you’re the one to tap into that resource without additional cost.   Get the best ideas on the table then listen to what others are saying.  The more they’re contributing the more engaged they are and the ROI on engagement is palpable.  Bring in the troops to elevate your company’s responsiveness.

Contact Us Today to Strengthen Your Leadership Abilities

When you want help being boldly honest, coaching can help.  If you need ideas on how to ask open ended questions, get stronger facilitation skills or help with strategy to change the culture to around listening contact Pat Weiland, President at Sage Strategies.

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