The Blind Leading the Blind – The Art of “Knowing”

Close your eyes. See anything? Well then you're not following along. Close them again. Now go about your daily tasks at work - no cheating, keep em' closed. Pretty difficult eh? It's a terrible way to work, but unfortunately it's how most companies operate. 

I always find that I do the best work when I have a clue what the hell is going on. Clarity, gives me comfort. Clarity, gives me confidence. Clarity, gives me a reason to do a good job. The best leaders in a company are those who can communicate the purpose clearly. You have to educate people on "the why." One of my favorite authors Simon Sinek has a catchy saying:

If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.

-- Simon Sinek

Essentially what Sinek is saying is that it's not WHAT you do it's WHY you do it. The purpose here is to open people's eyes so they aren't just mindless lemmings doing your bidding (hopefully you have more respect for people than that). This is key for building one of the most important words beginning with the letter T at any company.

Trust.

You want people to believe what you believe. And what is it that you believe? If you're not sure, why'd you start the company - what's the company's mission? The most successful leaders live and die by their company mission statement. They make sure that every all-hands meeting they are instilling the mission. Even more so they make sure they are spreading the mission. Find who the influencers are at your company. Those are your transmitters - your radio towers who will amplify the message to the rest of the company. Make it spreadable.

Now, there is such a thing as too much information. Indeed the expression "too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the broth" is relevant. Everyone in the company doesn't NEED to know everything that is going on at every second of the day. In addition to the mission, they DO however need direction. Not "directions" as in "how to do your job." But directions as in where is the ship being steered? What is the goal we are trying to accomplish with this? It doesn't need to be extremely granular, but having updates from each business function paints a clearer, more holistic picture.

Seem simple? (I wish it were)

Why does the C-suite not want you to know what's going on? Most of the time this paranoia is caused when things are not going well (the ship is getting too close to the ice berg). Other times it's an ego thing. The sage of stage feels most powerful when they are the only ones holding a piece of information. The problem is everyone suffers. Not everyone needs to be an accountant, or an analyst, or a marketer, or a widget producer. It helps to know what's going on in each of those departments though. This way I know that my work is somehow making an impact. Maybe my project is streamlining things for the engineers, or helping the sales people close accounts.

There's a trap here too. Many times leaders just don't want to bother people with too many details. I hear yah. I'm glad you had a ham sandwich for lunch but you didn't need to call me (or tweet me) to tell me that. Ok, that's a little extreme but you get my drift. It's a balancing act. One thing that helps is to put it in the hands of your division leads to update everyone. At the end of every all-hands meeting take notes and figure out, was that information valuable? By the way, if the information is entertaining - it's valuable. If the sales team had a hilarious story to tell you about a client interaction share it with the company. When people feel "in the know" it breaks down the divisions and puts everyone on a horizontal playing field.

So next time you are at your desk - close your eyes. Do you feel like this all the time? Chances are good your powers at be aren’t giving you enough information. For the good of the whole – demand clarity. Otherwise you’re just blindly being led into the pit. 

Author Sean Zinsmeister is what happens when a musician, a composer, an entrepreneur and a marketer is put together in a blender. You can find more of Sean on THE FIVE, here.

blog comments powered by Disqus

The Featured Five