Who doesn't love Bingo?
As I look around the leadership blogosphere, I was reminded of a game we used to play during senior officer pep talks. Now, by sharing the secrets of senior officer bingo, I’m probably only ensuring that it happens to me, but it’ll help me make a point about the pitfalls of motivating groups. Here’s how the game works – you and your wingers sit down ahead of the meeting and make a list of all the tried and true motivational one liners of your organization. Once you have a good selection, you make bingo cards. As you sit through the meeting, check ’em off until you get a full line. What to do if you win? Easy, put your hand up and ask a question. Just be sure to use the word “bingo” so all your friends know that you won…
Here’s a shopping list of the types of phrases I mean:
- “Ton for ton, the best ships in the world”
- “What’s your job? Best one I ever had.”
- “Pound for pound, the best sailors in the world.”
- “World-class (insert noun here)”
See what I mean? Everyone of us who’ve ever worked in a large organization can probably sit down and make a bingo card right now.
Here’s the thing. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with engaging with your team. There’s nothing wrong with motivation. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with fostering pride in your folks. So why does this bring out cynicism? It’s because our tried and true one-liners of motivation are vague. They lack concrete terms and aren’t linked to specific, sticky things that people can touch, feel, taste or smell. For further guidance on concrete and sticky messaging, have a look at the Heath Brothers book, Made to Stick.
The way ahead? Think carefully about the message you send when trying to motivate you folks. Does it fit with the organizational culture? If you’re trying to change the culture, will your message help move in the right direction? Is you message sticky? Is it concrete? Can everyone touch, feel, taste, or smell what you’re trying to say?
For me, a successful motivational talk would be one where the bingo game has no winner…
Anyone care to share the organizational one-liners that they love to hate?
So there I was, minding my own business and checking through some feeds that I follow, when I found it. An article that really hit at some of the things I have been learning and combining concepts with some of the things I believe. This article, by Rawn Shah of Forbes.com, took a look at the impact of social media on the traditional forms of leadership. Shah’s point, and it’s a great one, is that social media is a game changer. It allows leadership to emerge regardless of place within an organization. It lets someone who is miles away from a key to the executive bathroom speak with authority and influence. In some cases, these new leaders can become as influential over their corner of the world as the titular head of the company.
What to do? I mean, if you are running a business, you would like to think that you are, after all, actually running the place, wouldn’t you? Here’s the good news – you can get out in front of this. You can get out in front of your organization. And you can do it without the drain of initiative and drive that typically follows the clumsy assertion of authority. How? Easy. Get involved. Find the location of the discussion – be it Twitter, email, newsletter, whatever (I didn’t forget Facebook, it’s just not everyone wants to be Friends with the boss…) – and take part. Don’t take over, be part of the discussion. This, in my opinion, doesn’t erode your position as a leader; it enhances it. After all, you can discuss, participate, listen without necessarily taking the organization off track. No one said that you had to read a blog or Twitter stream and tear up your mission statement. There are days you may want to, but that’s a different subject altogether… At worst, you learn where pressure points are and who/what are their causes. At best, a small kernel of an idea that would never have seen the light of day leaps off your Blackberry and proves to be the next iPad or cure for cancer. And in the middle lies the more likely outcome – engagement at all levels.
In the article, two executives provided a pretty good definition of command: “Establish command, not control.” Or as Shah amplifies, “Command means influential and inspirational leadership, as opposed to the simple exercise of power.” I like that definition. Perhaps even enough to blog about it another day.
Nice job Rawn Shah – you nailed it.
Posted in Communication, Influence, Leadership
Tagged Command, Communications, Control, Engagement, Facebook, Forbes, Leadership, Listen, Outcome, Rawn Shah, Web 2.0