Monday, August 10, 2015

A New Way to Work Requires A New Way to Lead

"Customers are like snowflakes." What a great phrase! It comes from an article written by Francis Hall and tweeted by my IBM Futurist Program colleague in Israel, Naor Tal. As I read through the article, it reminded me of an emerging reality in the realm of a "new way to work" -- it's all about the individual. (Check out tweets under this hashtag - #newwaytowork).

It's About the Individual

Francis makes the case in his article that like snowflakes (no one snowflake is exactly the same), customers are really individuals, each with specific needs and interests and marketing effectively is accepting this truth. This includes successfully connecting to and relating to that individual in as many ways as possible. This is also true in how we work with employees, the internal customers of a company.

This approach for both internal and external customers can be described as honoring, considering and embracing the humanness of commerce.  It's beyond just generating transactions, it's connecting in a way that engages on a deeper, more human level that translates into a relationship. Consider the definition of relationship: a connection, association, or involvement.

All this may begin to sound a bit too touchy-feely, but the infusion of social media into our social experience, offering new and easier modes of connecting have transformed the expectations of employees and customers into more relating -- more open and human in their experience.

It is the era of relating, that is "relationship-ing" (ok...I know that's not a real word, but I'm thinking you'll forgive me for using it for the moment).

New Expectations Require a New Kind of Leadership

In my recent leadership and executive coaching work, there has been much discussion about transformational leadership vs. transactional leadership. It's a need in my clients' businesses and they are struggling with seeing the need for and growing the qualities to become that type of leader.

Transformational leadership has a strong theme of social intelligence and relationship. It's being a more connected, human leader that influences and motivates through relational power vs. demanding or controlling via positional power. It says farewell to the old "command and control" style and embraces the reality that employees want to be lead differently -- more humanly. They want a relationship experience, not a transactional one. 

There is a emerging trend for a deeper human experience in commerce.

Whether its being more green, socially responsibility, taking on humanitarian causes, community volunteering, connecting our humanity to business, expanding the human experience in business is here to stay. If company leaders are not acknowledging this and leveraging it for business growth and talent management it will eventually have an adverse impact on their competitiveness and profitability.

Transformational leaders are the kind of leaders that recognize, respond and harness this social change, fully believing business is about relating in ways that create meaningful bonds with products, services and people.

So, no matter the area of business in which we function, "relationship-ing" is the new way to work and the new way to work requires a new way to lead.  It needs leaders connecting in a more human way and championing more meaningful connections with all stakeholders through a variety of means. 

I believe the level of success for any business as well as the professional success of an individual will be in large part based on embracing this new reality. How is your "relationship-ing" going?

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