Mobilise your teams to Lead the Future

‘A computer on every desk in every home’ was Microsoft’s early mission. It was bold, ambitious and life changing. Microsoft envisioned an environment that didn’t exist then and resembled somewhat of an impressionist painting yet tangible enough to realise it. They didn’t translate that vision into a winning strategy by building computers, they achieved it by scaling Satya Nadella’s mindset of ‘leaders develop leaders’. It’s this mission that led their employees being willing to trust and went on to change the world for each and every one of us forever. They built computers for every desk in every home.

It’s one of the most famous stories of Mobilising. And whilst your organisation might not be of Microsoft’s scale, mobilising your workforce and engaging them to lead the future will set you apart from your competition.

“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” – Ralph Nader

The challenges with mobilising often come down to a lack of employee engagement. According to an ongoing Gallup survey in the US, 14% of workers are ‘actively disengaged’ – those who have miserable work experiences and spread their unhappiness to their colleagues. And even at its highest rate, employee engagement – those who are highly involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace is only 38% according to Gallup. You can have all the visions, plans and structures in the world. If you can’t mobilise your workforce, you vision will stay a vision.

Mobilising goes beyond leading change. Mobilising is an organisation’s ability to foresee change and quickly and effectively create strategies to identify, develop and leverage employee capabilities and structure. It also means embracing technology that supports your mobility strategy and equipping your teams with tools to realise the vision. And real key is to get buy-in on all levels of the organisation.

Otherwise, it looks like this:

I have developed a mobilising framework with 6 key strategies:

  1. Envision and Foresight– Mobilising is more than imagining a future where we run successful and profitable organisations. “It’s about identifying potential inflection points in your industry and the timeframe when they are likely to occur – the early signals of disruption – and then you develop a broader picture of that environment” (Mark W. Johnson). Envision of how you help your clients in that environment and who you will compete with.
  2. Trust and buy-in. Create psychological safety throughout the organisation to increase the level of trust for people to share ideas no matter how outrageous they seem. You want your people to be creative, innovate, challenge the status quo and ask questions that change the future. Empower your people to own and deliver ideas and projects. This will directly hit the engagement scale.
  3. Mobilise leaders at all levels. Don’t keep your future vision to the executive team or project groups. It has to be front and centre throughout the entire organisation and shared continuously. Make employee engagement priority on all levels of the organisation. Adopt a ‘Leaders create Leaders’ culture where empowerment and encouragement drive people vs. winning and acknowledgment.
  4. Accountability and Leading by Example. There is nothing worse than being asked to work on a project and then never being followed up by our manager. People want to be held accountable, receive feedback and see the fruit of their work. Organisations with a high level of accountability are significantly more productive and successful. Check out my earlier blog:
  5. Collaboration and Co-Creation. Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We need to rely on our collective wisdom, experience and cognitive diversity to solve complex problems. Rather than creating silos and isolate business areas, encourage your teams to collaborate and co-create across disciplines.
  6. Embrace Technology. Equip your people with technology they need to innovate, collaborate, communicate. Our workforces need to be able to work mobile and remote but stay connected. Technology needs to help, not hinder them to be productive. Don’t leave it the IT department. Embrace technology. That doesn’t mean you have to be an expert, but rather see the opportunity that technology offers your workforce.

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