It has become quite common to believe that leadership is a means by which someone simply implements their ideas and has others carry out the tasks and functions to bring that idea into reality. Many people in organizations have accepted this as the status quo and tend to wait for direction and then follow that direction. That is the view of “work” for many people in the workforce. Unfortunately, this creates a minimalist mentality as far as what people are willing to do for the organization.

The other challenge with this is that it places an unrealistic amount of pressure on leadership to have insight into the minute details of each and every worker to see what would be the best idea or direction for those being led. We have all had some form of direction or process implemented and it makes our job less efficient and almost prevents us, as a worker, from fulfilling the company vision that we hear at every meeting and in every email we receive from superiors.

If we as leaders can avoid this, why wouldn’t we? Do we truly want an organization where people take little to no initiative in their roles? When we give direction from our thoughts alone, we are communicating that we are the only ones who have the answers. We may not believe that to be true, but that is the message that is typically received.

The people who are regularly carrying out tasks to move the organization forward have valuable insight into what will make their jobs more effective and efficient. These valuable individuals in our organizations also are the regular touch-points between the organization and the customer base. This type of crowd sourcing is an asset that doesn’t show up on balance sheets and utilizing this asset is a great way to serve your customer base in a way that distinguishes you from others in the marketplace.

A great example is Best Buy. Instead of asking one analyst (or a small team of analysts) to determine projected sales, the leadership decided to ask the people in the stores to estimate what the sales would be. In the end, the people who worked in the stores collectively had an accuracy rating of 99% of actual sales; the analyst’s best work over time had been 95%. How much of a difference would an increase of 4% accuracy in your projections make in your organization?

Reach out to those in your organization and benefit from their insight. You are adding value and appreciation for who they are and what they contribute to the organization. Honoring someone for who they are is an integral part of quality leadership. Let me encourage you to look for new and creative ways to reach out to those in your organization and leverage the insight and intelligence they bring to the table. Crowd sourcing will provide some valuable information and build loyalty at the same time.

  • William,
    As always, great insights! Thank you for this blog – leadership does not require a title, simply action and attitude!

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  • William,
    This is a very insightful post. Love the application of crowdsourcing in this context. This is spot on! I’ve seen this in many of the hospital consulting engagements I’ve conducted. The best ideas and answers to problems usually come from the front line workers who have direct interaction with customers (or patients). The organization needs to take the time to talk with this group, listen to their suggestions and utilize the solutions they propose. Great post!

  • Excellent post! What’s difficult to comprehend is why this simple and effective approach isn’t more common.

    My recent post, “Thinking Too Much” provides an excellent compliment to this one. it can be found out: http://www.rickrossbusinessblog.com/2010/08/thinking_too_much.html

  • Thanks Rick. Your article on thinking too much was an interesting read as well. Nice to see like-minded professionals putting it out there. I appreciate you taking time to contribute!