Need to Get Your Team on Track? Give them All D's
Written by AmyK Hutchens, AmyK International, Inc.
Imagine if you could get your team on board to work in concert and change the future of your company for the better. What if, in the process, you were also able to give them a greater sense of worth and to inspire them to work toward new goals as a team?
How can we better motivate teams to work more closely together to achieve business goals? How can we cut costs? Do things better, faster? Stand out from the competition? Every day you are faced with a myriad of challenges in making important decisions, creating innovative plans and taking action! The most critical of these steps is the initial decision you make and I’m here to let you in on a secret to success – the best decisions are often not made alone. By charting the path alone and expecting your team to follow you are missing out, not only on important feedback, but on using the decision-making process to gain buy-in and acceptance. Instead, you will be amazed at the options that will arise when you give your team D’s.
Unlike the unsatisfactory mark of the ‘D’ that you might have seen in school, this insightful experience is defined by three essential elements: Discuss, Debate and Decide. Each element forms the foundation for execution success and goal achievement. Neglecting even one component will compromise the outcome of your opportunity.
The most valuable discussions are those of dialogue as opposed to dissertation, and the most productive dialogues occur in two steps.
- First, state the opportunity in clear, un-biased terms. With a mindset of respect and equality (organizational hierarchy has no place here), encourage free-thinking and sharing from the team members about how best to maximize this opportunity if it should even be pursued. Provoke constructive controversy and resist any propensity for judgmental commentary. Seek to stretch perspective beyond the status quo and mitigate potentially limiting beliefs. Doing this step first will engender thoughtful regard and trust among the team members and open the door to creativity and innovation.
- Second, add structure to the dialogue. Take a closer look at each of the contributions to the discussion so far and apply objective questions to all of them. What are the potential consequences, intended and otherwise; who will be involved and feel the effects, for better or worse; what’s the value of the “extraordinary” opportunity to all those involved? Think of this step as a culling process where the most valid contributions are identified and clarified for subsequent debate.
Having shared an intellectually curious, thoughtful discussion, it’s time to take sides – literally. Debate is essentially a well-reasoned, respectful, even passionate argument. Debate the proposed positions and discussion points from each plausible perspective. The goal is discovery. Through deep inquiry, clear and thorough presentation and thoughtful rebuttal, answers to questions that otherwise would not likely come to mind are brought to light. Perhaps even more revealing is the discovery of questions behind the questions – the things you were unaware you didn’t know. Debate where and how a proposed course of action might fail, how it might succeed, is it even feasible, and so on. And, above all else, listen with the same intensity others reserve for speaking. It will pay dividends even beyond the decision you choose.
Finally, after all the discussion and enlightened debate, it’s time to choose. This does not mean defeat nor acquiescence for anyone. For even those who “lost” the debate will ultimately win with a great decision made. It means to commit – completely and clear-mindedly for everyone. This is not a place for compliance. Commitment necessitates regard for the process you’ve completed and respect for the people with whom you’ve processed. What does this look like down the road? Unity of command – when in the moment the decision that was made is challenged by circumstances or individuals, you stand by the decision you made as a team and present it as your own, without caveat or condition.
How will you know your decision was the “right” decision and even a great decision? Fair question – perhaps not the best question, however. The more compelling question is, “How will you lead in the wake of the decision you made?” Great leaders do far more than make great decisions. They deal with consequences, they focus, they listen, they navigate the unpredictable course of life, and in so doing they inspire those they lead to make their own great decisions as well.
About the Author: With presentations to 30,000+ executives in eight countries, AmyK Hutchens serves as an Intelligence Activist and business strategist to leaders around the globe. She is a former senior EVP of Operations for a leading sales and marketing firm, Director of Education for Europe and Australia for a 900 million dollar consumer products company, and chosen member of National Geographic's Educator Advisory Committee. To learn more about her firm’s proprietary Leadership Links program please visit www.amyk.com. Follow AmyK on Twitter @AmyKinc or visit at www.amyk.com.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.