21 Ways to Uncover Real Power in Any Organization when Everything Changes

At a time when people are experiencing stress at epic levels, organizations need to support their teams like never before. While nearly every company is adjusting their expectations, the most successful are still optimizing to be the best they can be in today’s environment. The key to optimizing is to uncover the real power in your organization. That requires leadership.

Conventional wisdom says leadership comes from the top. But in my experience working with companies ranging from startups to multinationals, I’ve found that conventional wisdom is wrong.

Optimizing is all about fostering leadership power at ALL levels.

Here are twenty tips I use to do just that, plus one that needs even more emphasis due to the unprecedented COVID-19 challenge we now face. If you are a manager at ANY level, these will help you and your team:

  1. Announce ASAP – communicate your goals, but be firm on generalities and loose on specifics
  2. Build a MVA – quickly develop a Minimally Viable Approach with a small/diverse team
  3. Engage everyone – think broadly
  4. Use a “Go-Test” – support the “Go-Go’s” (those who get it), help the “No-Go’s” (those who will never get it) to find somewhere else to work, and spend your time with the “Go-But’s” (those who need something to get on board)
  5. Double-down on Values – reinforce the things that won’t change
  6. Overcommunicate – just when you think you are done, you are just getting started
  7. Watch body language – watch others to get clues on where they stand, and watch your own body language, because others are
  8. Enable champions – some on your team have a larger ripple effect than others
  9. Embrace bad news – don’t kill the messenger
  10. Develop kill lists – encourage people to nominate things to stop doing
  11. Be present – make others feel your focus—on them
  12. Create flexible structure – hierarchy can both help and hurt so don’t rely on it exclusively
  13. Increase recognition – lots of “at-a-girl”s and “at-a-boy”s
  14. Build a new language – create phrases that capture key messages and use them a lot
  15. Use stories – build descriptions of past successes and key learnings to help your team retain and apply them
  16. Celebrate heroes – revel in the accomplishment of the innovators
  17. Model vulnerability – lead by example to help others “stay real”
  18. One-minute manage – offer positive feedback prior to constructive criticism
  19. Embrace a growth mindset – use adversity to get better
  20. Measure what matters – prioritize and stop focusing on numbers that don’t matter

And while this toolkit works well, I suggest adding particular emphasis to ONE item that should be on the top of everyone’s list:

  1. Recognize personal differences – it’s never been more important to acknowledge each person’s distinctive nature, and challenges. While I’m a fan of the golden rule (treat others as you’d like to be treated), I’m also a fan of Keith Ferrazzi’s platinum rule: Treat others as they wish to be treated.

Managers at any level can create conditions that will increase the clarity, energy, and impact of their team members, even today. And there is no limit to how far that positive ripple effect can spread.

Why not start now?