Sean asked an incredibly important question on our group call that I know so many business owners struggle with.
When you work with superstars who are excellent in their field, they will inevitably have opinions and questions about the direction of the business. However, they often do not also have the insight and overview that you, as the business owner have since they are focused on what they are doing and not on the wider business.
At the same time, leveraging collective intelligence could really help the business move forward and highlight your blind spots. Not to mention that their involvement in the strategy motivates them to then actively work towards the business goals.
So what is the best approach for including your team in making strategic decisions? That’s the question we address in this call.
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Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:
Do I involve the team when writing our business strategy?
Hmmm, very interesting question. Sean, I will unmute you and see what’s your thought. So there you go, Sean, you’re unmuted. Can you hear me? Yeah, so how would you go about it?
Sean: Personally I’m kind of inclined to write the strategy and then go through it with the team and get their input, and then sort of dealing with their objections or thoughts. So that basically I kind of let them think that they’ve been involved with the strategy, while at the same time making sure it goes in the direction I want it to.
Shweta: Okay got it so you’ll create a draft plan and then you will share it with them to see if there are any objections or any questions or any input that they might have and then finalize it, that’s what you’re saying right? Yeah. Cool, okay. That’s good, thanks, Sean.
Is there a problem? Like, why do you have this question? Have you done that before?
Sean: Well, no because the thing is being a yoga business, the people on the team are all very opinionated on the way that the business should be run. But a lot of them don’t think about it like it’s a proper business.
So, I think a lot of time I try and implement stuff and people automatically think, “Oh no that’s that’s not the right choice. That’s not the right decision.”
And then I have to, you know, when I explain it to them and say, “No, but you know have you thought about this? Have you thought about that? We can’t do that because it’s not sustainable, it’s just gonna cost money.”
Then they go, “Oh yeah no I’m with you now.”
So part of me is doesn’t really want to get them involved in the first stage because they’ll probably be objecting to most of my ideas. Whereas if I kind of say to them, “Look, this is what I want to do and these are the reasons why I want to do it,” they then might have some interesting input that maybe I haven’t thought about and which I could include, which could add on or add into to the framework or the strategy that I’ve put in place.
Shweta: Got it, understood. Makes sense. I understand the concern as well.
The Interesting Video
There’s a very interesting video which I will share with people on the call later on, and it’s it’s not very clear video but you can make out what’s happening.
So this is a person, a really wacky looking person, just like Sean, and I think in Hyde Park was somewhere. People are lounging enjoying the sunshine, and this guy gets up in shorts and then he’s just dancing some kind of wacky dance moves. You can imagine just random throwing of hands, he’s just enjoying the music playing and he’s just in his own world. He’s having a blast of a time.
And people are just sitting and everybody’s like watching. They’re actually zooming in and they’re like making faces saying, “What’s wrong with this weirdo? What is he trying to do?”
But this guy’s in his own world and dancing and enjoying.
Then after a few minutes of being on his own, this second guy gets up and joins this first guy and he’s just following his rhythm and his moves right. It’s absolutely like completely wacky just crazy stuff happening okay.
And then within minutes – within seconds, and you will watch that in the video – pretty much everyone sitting there in that park gets up and they’re having a music fest with that guy leading. It’s like, everyone gets up and they’re having a fantastic time together.
The First Followers Concept
Now, why I’m sharing this with you, the reason is that yes, the leader is required and that’s absolutely critical; someone who talks about the strategy and where we are heading, and why we’re doing what we’re doing it. But there is also a very important critical member in the team or members in the team and they’re called the first follower or first followers.
When you have the first follower rallying behind the leader, all of a sudden it gives lot of confidence to the overall organization, and the overall team and people start to rally behind that idea.
Now, it’s a nuance but a very important one, and I’ll share that video and you will watch it for yourself. It’s a really interesting insight.
Don’t Leverage Collective Intelligence From Day 1
What it means, therefore, Sean, is that I think leveraging collective intelligence is absolutely important and one needs to have an open mind to say, “I might be having blind spots, it’s not about my ego, I actually want to see what is the intel.” But at the same time, you’re not trying to leverage collective intelligence from day one.
As I talked about with this video, you want to identify who could be your potential first follower or first followers. What’s the council you want to pay attention to? Who are the people, the senior management team members, who would then be working with their team and actually explaining why we’re going about it?
Or, they might be the ones who actually say, “No, this is not a good idea, let’s come up with a better one.”
You might want to position it, saying, “This is what I’m working on, this is why I’m kind of working on this, these are my broad thoughts, just let’s talk about this.”
And then you just brainstorm without getting fixated on one path or one strategy.
And, by the way, we also follow this. I’m saying it because I’m absolutely aligned with what I’m talking about right now.
I would put it out there, gather some ideas. Say, “Guys, this is what I’m trying to work on.” Take permission from my core team and say, “Would it be okay if I work on the draft and I’ll come back with you let’s sit down and brainstorm. Would that be okay?” And now they know that, okay, she’s the one who’s taking the workload she’s going to go back and think about it.
You go back, think about it, and then you bring it back to the table.
And you discuss with your core council team, your first followers, potential followers or people who will add huge value by even negating the idea or strategy. That’s when you’re discussing.
You might be like, “Oh, what’s the point? These guys are all negative.” But as Jamie very rightly said, those one or two points that arise out of that discussion can really change the overall strategic approach, or might just give you more confidence that this is right.
The Four Key Elements For Sharing Strategy
Now there is another critical point for all the leaders on the call; when have the right content and that’s shared with the right person at the right time with the right context, it’s very powerful.
I’m talking about four things:
- the right Person
- and the right Context.
When you do that it’s beautiful, it’s powerful.
But when that one of the elements of these four bits are missing it can really go wrong.
You Need To Take A Call And Commit
What I’m therefore saying is that our idea is not to share with everyone the content. You know, ‘Let’s be democratic and we all have to be agreeing to what we’re doing.’ That’s not my approach of running a business I’m very clear on that.
As a leader sometimes you have to take a call, you commit to something and you move forward. But you want to rally as many people as possible, but more importantly, make sure you’re not having a blind spot, and you’re committing to the right path.
This also means that a leader needs to be a good filter. It doesn’t mean that you share everything with everyone at any given point of time. You need to know what will they do with that information.
If it’s not relevant to them, hold back. Discuss only with the close group of people who can add that value and have a wider perspective, share it with them, validate it with them and then let’s start sharing with the wider organization.
At that time, then, it’s not so much idea generation or ‘Do you agree with that?’ – it becomes, ‘This is what we’re doing. This is what we’re committing to. We are sharing it with you. If there’s something obvious we have missed out, let us know. But this is a decision that we have come to.’
Now you will see there is a change in the languaging, there’s a change in the style as you approach the wider organization. But at the beginning make sure that you have some people, it could be your coach it could be your partner, it could be some key team members, who are making sure that you’re not having a blind spot. You’re not getting stuck in your ego. Or people with whom you can just talk very freely – what’s your core agenda, core objective? What are you trying to achieve? And therefore what’s the best path?
It could just be that three years down the line you want to be somewhere else. You don’t want to be working X number of hours and therefore, how can they help you achieve that without impacting the business, and the value that it is generating?
So I hope it helps. I’ve shared some management principles here because we forget sometimes we all want to be democratic we want to be ‘filter less’ and ‘share everything’, but it doesn’t really help the organization; it just confuses people, because they don’t have the full context, whereas you do have the full context to make this decision.
So again just layering it properly and deciding properly at what time, when, what content, what people, what time, what context, that’s the key thing.