The Corporate, Crowdsourcing CEO: A New Age of Leadership
In working with our largest clients’ Corporate Innovation Programs, it has become apparent that Global Enterprise Campaigns are of utmost interest.
Campaigning for innovative ideas and solutions across large, diverse organizations is a great way to break down the silos and bring together disparate locations. While it seems to be a hot topic, it brings to mind my experiences at the 2013 Dreamforce conference. I had the pleasure of seeing Marissa Mayer speak about the importance of breaking down silos and involving the entire organization in the strategy. This is what I term the New Age of Leadership.
Empowering Crowds by Taking a Step Back
Amidst all the craziness of the city streets, which were completely packed with over 125,000 of Salesforce’s friends and employees, I was able to make my way to see Marissa Mayer. The Dreamforce event focused on innovation, so I knew they would ask Marissa questions related to the topic, and most likely get her perspective on leading Yahoo! through some challenging times.
Marissa did not disappoint. She shared her perspective on where companies can “get in their own way,” as well as what it means to break down the walls that typically exist to due to working with teams in different regions, with various structures, and doing so with respect to organizational hierarchy.
She shared an interesting idea: that really, it’s all about getting out of your employees’ way, and empowering them to do more themselves. But to do that effectively, it’s the company’s responsibility to make any necessary changes that will facilitate this kind of culture, and to showcase a new age of leadership by breaking down old, stodgy processes and structures of the past that have held people back.
She also suggested that, while we know that employees have a surplus of great ideas, the path is rarely cleared for them to share these ideas. Once that path opens up, it’s about taking the empowered employee through processes that will generate action. In regards to Yahoo!, Mayer pointed out that she specifically believes in empowering employees to craft ideas and help bring them to life. According to Mayer, employee transparency has helped Yahoo! achieve greatness.
One of the most interesting things Marissa spoke about — in regards to transparency and innovation — was when she challenged employees to help her construct slides to be presented to the board of directors. Her belief is that everyone owns the company, and board slides are a great outlet for them to demonstrate this very principle. Crowdsourcing her board slides gave her the ability to understand the ideas, thoughts, and points of view of her employees. It’s also lead to a new Yahoo policy: a Friday afternoon “all-hands meeting” to hear their ideas. To me, this demonstrates a new age of leadership.
At the Apex of New Leadership
What was especially intriguing during the interview with Marisa was the reaction of the crowd. Twitter blew up with some amazing tweets highlighting the new age of leadership that she is demonstrating. Here are some examples:
- Voice for all #df13 My POV: good to see how @marissamayer is building an authentic business w/ high levels of transparency #df13
- Providing transparency is critically important @marissamayer presented all yahoo employees with her board slides. Awesome.
- Another great insight @marissamayer, CEOs need to listen to their employees.
- Listening to @marissamayer, employees have good ideas. They just want to be told go #gomarissago #dreamforce #innovation
- Democratizing innovation by giving ideation opportunities to all employees — or even those outside the walls of a company — exemplifies the new age of leadership for enterprises around the globe. And those that can do it fast, with the right amount of inclusion and adoption, will be the ones that win the market relevance race. CEO innovation campaigns are the very vehicle to help take companies to the next level.
What can CEO lead campaigns do for the enterprise?
- They inspire. Focus on building the company culture, reinforcing behaviors pertinent to an innovative global organization, and delivering compelling experiences to employees. Create energy and focus to drive your business forward.
- They give permission. Encourage employees to innovate beyond their day-to-day tasks, and allow them to do it while on work time.
- They eliminate barriers. Demonstrate global collaboration capability through highlighting data and insights from engagement, participation, and demographic insights.
- They reinforce change. Promote, educate, and engage to further current efforts or change management initiatives
- They distinguish. Focus on strategic opportunities that provide tangible, relevant solutions that drives continued innovation, have strategic fit, sizable market opportunity, and acceptable risk.
At their core, internal collaborative innovation campaigns advance the CEO’s agenda, demonstrating commitment to action, enabling new capabilities, and showing that executives value employee input. They let the CEO seek and identify innovative solutions from their greatest asset — their employees.
In my experience, CEO Challenges — when positioned appropriately — can drive sizable change and reinforce exceptional behaviors that set the stage for a cultural shift. The ability to bring together strategic and tactical initiatives leads to incremental, or even breakthrough, innovation. The new age of leadership has arrived. Are you living it?