Login with FacebookPrivacy challenges by public interest groups and the FTC are threatening to dismantle or seriously curtail the behavioral targeting model of interactive advertising as it stands today. Fearful of damaging relationships with their readers, many publishers are removing third-party widgets and other technologies when those technologies are found to capture and sell user data without the user’s express permission.

Even Facebook itself has cracked down on unauthorized data scraping. Recent “Do Not Track” efforts are trying to move choices about data sharing from publishers to the people via browser technology. But these are merely symptoms of a larger problem with interactive advertising: a lack of transparency. It’s a problem that new social tools will play a significant role in addressing.

Rather than an endgame where consumers completely block any sort of data sharing, I see a future where marketers take the high road and both sides benefit from better quality data, advertising and content.

Permission Marketing

The concept of “Permission Marketing” isn’t new; in fact, Seth Godin’s 1999 book about “turning strangers into friends and friends into customers” seems remarkably prescient in today’s age of “Friending,” “Liking,” and “Following.” Godin told the (then e-mail-dominated) interactive industry, “By talking only to volunteers, Permission Marketing guarantees that consumers pay more attention to the marketing message. It serves both customers and marketers in a symbiotic exchange.”

Today, technologies like Facebook Connect and OAuth are helping to redefine the concept of permission marketing. Using these technologies, brands, retailers, publishers and other sites are able to actively establish a permission-based relationship with their users and customers on their own websites. Now websites have the opportunity to embrace transparency, to be upfront with people during the registration process about how their data will be used, as well as how it will benefit both parties.

We have a new generation comfortable using Facebook and other mobile apps and who, according to recent survey data, are quite willing to share personal information with companies and brands in exchange for value provided. They are also relatively unconcerned about the security of data they share on social networks. The bottom line is that this type of authorization-based relationship between brand and user is likely to become the norm.

This Year’s Model

auth image

So what exactly is the data and advertising opportunity for sites? The Huffington Post is the poster child for this new social data-based permission marketing approach. Readers register on the site using their existing Facebook, Twitter or other social identity, thereby giving HuffPo access to data with which the site can personalize the user experience.

For readers, this means they can see what their friends are reading and sharing on their site, giving them a powerful social filter for relevant content. It also means The Huffington Post can sell advertising on their own site based on everything they know about the user from a social perspective.

I had a chance to meet Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau at last year’s IAB leadership summit, where publishers get together to talk about the future of interactive advertising, and he shared with me that their integration and application of Facebook Connect and similar technologies to create a social news experience has been the key driver of their phenomenal traffic growth over the past year plus. Social advertising is also a key source of their revenue growthHuffPo considers their site to be in the category of social media, and structures their ad sales team to serve that unique buyer. For publishers and advertisers, this approach has the power of Facebook ads, yet is superior because it combines the best of both worlds –- deep context plus social data.

Social Sign-On

social media image

While Social registration, also known as Social Sign-On, is the foundation for this new relationship-based model, the layers on top of that foundation are the most promising for the future of advertising. In addition to basic demographic targeting, sites could offer advertising based on interest data, targeting movie fans or iPod fans for example. Sites could also sell against social influence and activity — factors such as the number of friends, propensity to share and history of driving referral traffic, or even the number of items “Liked” as an indicator of engagement. Reward programs driven by game mechanics are a key part of the nurturing process in this new model, where a loyal, engaged and most importantly non-anonymous audience is the new currency of advertising.

Sites and brands need to ask themselves: What am I offering people that they will truly value in exchange for permission to talk to them as a friend and not an anonymous user? Badges may not be right for every site experience, but successful apps and other web experiences like those on The Huffington Post prove that it is not an unattainable goal.

As with all new models, there are challenges to address. Sites need a critical mass of users to grant them these permissions in order to sell advertising effectively. Privacy concerns with social network data will evolve over time and regulatory pressure will certainly cause the interactive industry some headaches as we move to a new equilibrium. But it is inevitable that a permission-based model will prevail, and those that are able to rapidly embrace this model and experiment with its possibilities will win higher CPMs, new ways to differentiate against the competition, and a more loyal audience.

About the Author

David A. Yovanno is the CEO of Gigya, Inc., a leading social optimization platform for online business. He can be reached on Twitter at @daveyovanno, or via e-mail: dave(at)gigya(dot)com.

[Via Mashable]

, , ,

Facebook can help your business growFacebook has grown to be one of the largest social networking platforms. It would perhaps be justified to state that Facebook is not just a part of life, rather a way of life. Started off as a platform for youngsters and teenagers in 2004, mostly university students of the US, it has now emerged as a source of recreation for people of all ages and occupations.

With Facebook, a new era has begun for the world of advertising from a business and an organizational stand point. As consumers rush towards digitalizing their lives, organizations rush behind them to be at the exposure of their precious customers. Organizations increasingly are challenged to come up with new ways and techniques of reaching out to more properly defined target markets in a more effective way. With boom in advertising industry, organizations spend millions of dollars each year in order to get their message across. The advertising expense as of 2009 in UK alone was £14.5bn.

While, it presents healthy opportunities for these businesses to innovatively diverge their attention and expenses to this new platform, on the other hand it poses some serious threats too.

Among all other rationales, the biggest as to why organizations rely on Facebook is the high ‘Reach’ that this medium offers.  As per Facebook’s own press release there are almost 500 Million active users of the website, 50% of which log on to the website at least once a day. For an organization such as Nestle’ it would mean; reaching out a much larger audience at a much lesser cost. As for Facebook; it earns most of its money from either advertising or selling out consumer data to organizations. People spend around 700 billion minutes on Facebook per month. They keep statuses, send messages, and join communities of their interest or in other words Facebook acts as their personal diary and a database of their mind. Using this database to the benefit of the organization is then the job of marketing personnel. The bottom line however is that reaching out to the brain and thought processes of consumers is a lot easier for organizations today, all thanks to Facebook.

Fan pages on Facebook are one of its most popular features and the only investment is ‘time’ of the person people refer to as the ‘administrator’. Businesses with no significant presence in practical field have used Facebook to build up their brands and create awareness. As a matter of fact, consumers are actually using Facebook to express themselves; it serves to the consumer end as a platform where they can directly convey their feedback or share their comments regarding a particular brand or product. This feedback obviously, serves back for the organization where they can do something to change the negative perceptions and reinforce the positive ones.

As a part of their integrated marketing communication practices, companies can benefit from Facebook by creating upcoming events. It is a good idea to use this channel to let the audience know of other marketing efforts a brand is making especially their interactive media contributions and their presence in various events.

Having established the fact that Facebook can really help businesses create awareness, build a strong brand image, directly communicate with their target market as well as getting consumer insights; On the other hand, the heavily increasing traffic on internet creates the kind of Clutter which was previously the nature of TVCs. Consumers are exposed to 5000 ads a day, as Walker Smith Claims. Getting through this clutter and being noticed by your audience is then the Job of the marketers.

Overall, Facebook can do wonders for organizations assuming that the organization has a plan and the will to make the effort. It is a cheaper, easier and a more direct channel of communication with prospective customers. ‘Pros and Cons’ is a universal truth, where something has its benefits it has some short comings too, the art however is to look up to the Cons as an opportunity, rather a threat and that is probably the difference between ‘ordinary’ and ‘extra-ordinary’ companies, that is what builds a ‘brand’ in the real sense of the word.

About the Author

Saman Tariq is a business graduate from FAST School of Business, with Marketing as her passion and field of interest. She, who spent her early childhood reading several novels and poems ended up writing some in her early teens and now has a passion to read, discuss and write on topics of marketing, social and organizational concerns.

, ,

Holidays-iPhone Apps for Creating Expense ReportsIt’s that time of year. We just wrapped up the holiday festivities, which were full of buying employee gifts and taking clients out for holiday celebrations. The accounting department wants everyone to submit their expenses before year-end. We can’t procrastinate any longer. Besides, getting our expense reports submitted means some extra money for the holiday season.

But I think we can all agree that expense reports are possibly the last thing any of us want to be doing at this time of year (or any time of year, for that matter).

Luckily, there are plenty of mobile apps that make it easier to track and submit expense reports. Here are seven handy apps specific to the iPhone.

1. Expensify

Expensify (free) offers the ability to create photo receipts and iPhone expense reports, and it integrates with Expensify’s website for instant reimbursement. It also can connect with QuickBooks. Great for people who travel and want to record expenses as they are incurred.

2. Fresh Xpense Capture

Fresh Xpense Capture (free) allows you to record your expenses (including photo receipts) as they occur. Expenses can be submitted using a variety of different formats such as SMS, IM, Twitter and e-mail. They are stored on the Xpenser website (sign up is free), where they can be imported to Excel, Quicken or MS Money.

3. Out of Pocket

Out of Pocket ($1.99) allows you to record your out-of-pocket expenses including photo receipts. Then you can export your expenses to FreeAgent or IRIS OpenBooks (optional). Out of Pocket also provides search capabilities, for those times when you’re trying to remember a date or expense description.

4. Shoeboxed Receipt Tracker

After you snap a photo of your receipt, Shoeboxed Receipt Tracker (free) automatically enters the date, total, payment type and category. It generates expense reports that can be sent from your iPhone as well as exported to QuickBooks and Quicken.

Shoeboxed also provides a fee-based service that enables you to mail in receipts (and other documents) to be scanned and uploaded to your online Shoeboxed.com account.

5. ProOnGo Expense

ProOnGo Expense (free) allows you to not only track receipt and mileage expenses, but it also enables you to time expenses. This is very useful for consultants or professionals that operate on a billable hour basis. ProOnGo also integrates with Quickbooks. For an extra cost, a receipt reader service is available.

6. JetSet Expenses

Another app that offers billable expense recording is JetSet Expenses (currently on sale for $4.99). It allows tracking of billable expenses, reimbursable expenses and non-reimbursable expenses. JetSet focuses on business travelers by offering international settings along with airline, hotel and rental car databases.

7. iReceipt

Don’t need a bunch of fancy options? iReceipt ($1.99) provides a simple, basic service. Record your expense details or take a photo of your paper receipt. Then e-mail yourself a text-generated expense report.

, , , , , , , ,

Google recently launched its Chrome Webstore for dedicated applications and extensions. Although the store is still in its early stages, there is already a wealth of choice for any small business owner.

This post highlights six noteworthy apps and extensions ranging from note-taking to project management. For small businesses with limited budgets, these resources can aid in productivity and time-management and let you concentrate on the more important aspects of your business.

Let us know in the comments below about any additional Chrome apps or extensions you would recommend.

1. Google Shortcuts

This extension brings all the Google services to your browser in a space-saving pop-up next to your address bar. Reach services like Gmail, Google Reader, Google Maps, Google Calendar and many more in just two clicks from your browser. The extension includes more than 140 Google services and websites. Once installed, just open the settings to customize and personalize the extension.

The level of customization is extensive, including sorting and rearranging the order of the buttons, selecting from six different icon sizes (16, 24, 32, 42, 48, and 64 pixels), adding your own custom URL button, integrating the Goo.gl URL shortener and changing the URL and names of services.

The support for Google Apps is what makes this really stand out from the crowd of Google-related extensions. Just scroll to the last section named Custom Domain for Google Apps and type your Google Apps domain name in the place provided. Now select the services of the domain you wish to add as a shortcut.

This is the official port of the well-known Firefox extension called ‘Google Shortcuts.’

2. Scribble

Scribble employs an approach that combines the simplicity and flexibility of text files with the order and control of GTD applications. If you have a habit of saving .txt files to your desktop as reminders, notes, thoughts and random ideas, Scribble is for you. You can now manage all those notes in one place, clutter free. It also works offline, which is invaluable, meaning your notes are stored locally. It has an attractive, simple UI, as well.

Perhaps the neatest feature is the letter-by-letter auto-save — there is no save key — because your note gets saved with every keystroke. Other features include the ability to attach reminders to specific notes; drag, drop and arrange the notes however you want; and store to-do lists, grocery items, phone numbers and e-mail templates.

Scribble can become a lifesaver if you have a habit of opening Notepad or TextEdit to jot down notes and reminders; it even gives a desktop pop-up reminder when something is due.

The developer has sync-to-cloud features and keyboard shortcuts planned for future releases.

3. Vyew

Vyew is a tool that allows you to meet and share information both in real-time and continuously. Upload images, files, videos and more, and Vyew will store the information in one “Room” that anyone can access and contribute to at any time. You can work independently over periods of time or in groups in real-time. All meeting content is auto-saved in real-time with no worry of losing work, even if a connection is lost.

There are several real-world applications for Vyew, including hosting presentations, reviewing documents, drawing and annotating, tutoring and training, desktop sharing and the ability to publish (read-only) versions of your meetings to a website, blog or through e-mail.

The app also includes a free conference call service, which means you can quickly and easily bring all your collaborators and participants together via telephone for live conferences. You can also use VoIP (up to two users) and webcams (up to five users).

4. Todo.ly

Todo.ly is an intuitive and easy-to-use to-do list and task manager to help you stay organized and get things done. Todo.ly was designed to be as simple to use as possible and fit in with your workflow.

It lets you divide your work into projects, which may have sub-projects. A task can also have sub-tasks. Managing “Tasks” and projects is straightforward; using the intuitive drag-and-drop interface, you can simply move your task from one project to another. Tasks will also pop into your “Today” list as due dates approach.

Due dates and filters (Inbox, Today, Next) are supported. The filters are easy to use and have been designed according to the Getting Things Done method. You can right-click tasks to edit them or add new tasks before or after it. The interface has been kept simple and functional and you’ll be up and running quickly. For example, if you want a simple unordered to-do list, you can simply start entering tasks.

While Todo.ly isn’t team-oriented at the moment, it has enough power under the hood and selection of features to be an excellent aid in personal productivity.

5. Write Space

Write Space is a customizable full-screen text editor for Chrome that is designed for distraction-free writing. It works offline, saves data locally and persistently backs up your work as each document is automatically saved with every key-press, so there is no worry of losing work. It allows customization to the font, background, width of the editor window and more. The live document statistics mean there’s no need to dig around menus to find the word count.

The standout feature is the ability to make Chrome go full-screen for a truly distraction-free environment. You can also set it to open in full-screen mode automatically by right-clicking on the application icon and selecting ‘Open full screen.’ You can import plain-text files, though if you already have data saved in Write Space, make sure you back it up before importing.

As Google Chrome does not yet support the HTML5 File Writer API, Write Space does not currently have an automated export function. However, you can export your work manually by copying the text in the browser window to another file or location.

Write Space is open source software, so you are free and encouraged to edit the application as you see fit.

6. Pivotal Tracker

Pivotal Tracker is a simple, story-based project management tool that allows teams to collaborate and react to feedback in real time. It’s based on agile software methods, but can be employed on a wide range of projects. It can be used on anything that you or your team works on that delivers some value, and that is large enough to benefit from being broken down into small, concrete pieces. It’s commonly used for organizing marketing campaigns or for general productivity management.

Everyone shares the same, up-to-the-minute view of what’s going on with the project and what needs to be done next. It lets project owners know exactly where things are without having to ask, and lets the rest of the team spend time on work, rather than on reporting the work.

You can create a Twitter account for your project, and let followers (team members) see project updates as they occur, as well as being kept up-to-date via Campfire, e-mail or web callbacks.

Iterate also provides a way to access Pivotal Tracker from your iPhone, with the same simple, well-designed UI as Pivotal.

Bonus Round

Here is a selection of quick links to six apps and extensions that are also worthy of making it into your Chrome setup:

  1. Scratchpad – A simple note-taking app from Google that allows you to take notes offline and optionally sync to the cloud when you’re online.
  2. Ge.tt – A real-time file-sharing service that allows you to share any number of files, no matter how large, within seconds.
  3. 280 Slides – Create beautiful presentations, access them from anywhere, and share them with the world.
  4. Hootsuite – Publish updates, track activity, and analyze results across multiple social networks including Twitter and Facebook.
  5. LovelyCharts – Online diagram software to create professional-looking flowcharts, sitemaps, organization charts, wireframes and more.
  6. Gpanion – Gpanion is your Google companion and provides a sleek dashboard for working with your Google Apps.

What other noteworthy Google Chrome apps or extensions have you discovered? Be sure to share your picks in the comments below.

[Via Mashable]

, , , , , , , , ,

The Value of Ritual in Your WorkdayI recently saw the movie The Last Samurai for the second time. Set in Japan in the 1870s, it tells the story of an American civil war veteran who was captured by samurai fighters and, over time, learned to honor their ways.

The first time I saw the movie, when it came out in 2003, I was enthralled by the beautifully choreographed fight scenes.

But this time, I was most moved by a scene I don’t even remember seeing the first time: a samurai drinking tea.

Sitting at a low table, he moved deliberately, singularly focused on his tea. He contemplated it. Then poured it. Then sipped it, tasted it, and, finally, swallowed it.

This, I realized, was the source of the samurai’s strength.

His acrobatics were impressive, but they were merely ademonstration of his strength. The source was this tea ritual and many other rituals like it. His power as a warrior came from his patience, precision, attention to subtlety, concentration, and his reverence for the moment.

The power of ritual is profound and under-appreciated. Mostly, I think, it’s because we live in a time-starved culture, and ritual is time-indulgent. Who can afford the luxury of doing one thing at a time? Who has the patience to pause and honor an activity before and after we do it?

We all should.

Religions understand and leverage the power of ritual. In Judaism, blessings are as plentiful as iPhone apps. Wake up? There’s a blessing for that. Wash your hands? There’s a blessing for that. Experience something new? Eat a meal? Go to the bathroom? There’s a blessing for each one. Every religion I know has similar practices to make our experience of the world sacred.

Which might be why we avoid ritual in the business world. Religion is so loaded, so personal. But ritual doesn’t have to be religious; it’s just a tool religions use. Rituals are about paying attention. They’re about stopping for a moment and noticing what you’re about to do, what you’ve just done, or both. They’re about making the most of a particular moment. And that’s something we could use a lot more of in the business world.

Imagine if we started each meeting with a recognition of the power of bringing a group of people together to collaborate and an intention to dedicate ourselves, without distraction, to achieving the goals of the meeting. Perhaps even an acknowledgement that each person’s views, goals, and priorities are important and need to be heard. Of course, that would require that every meeting have a clear goal, an agenda, and a purpose. But those are just nice side benefits.

What if every performance review began with a short thought about the importance of clear and open communication? If every time we worked on a spreadsheet someone else created for us, we paused to acknowledge the complexity of the work she did and the attention to detail she brought to it? If at the beginning of the day we paused to honor the work we are about to do and the people with whom we are about to do it?

Here’s what makes it easy to get started with this: no one needs to know.

Start with just yourself. Sit at your desk in the morning, pause before booting up your computer, and mark the moment. Do this by taking a deep breath. Or by arranging your pens. Whatever it is, do it with the intention of creating respect for what you’re about to begin. Do the same before you make a phone call. Or receive one. Or before you meet with a colleague or customer.

Each time we pause, notice, and offer respect for an activity, it reminds us to appreciate and focus on what we’re about to do. And by elevating each activity, we’ll take it more seriously. We’ll get more pleasure from it. The people with whom we work will feel more respected. And we’ll feel more self-respect.

Which means we’ll work better with each other. And produce better results.

That focus will help us accomplish our tasks more carefully, more proficiently, and more productively, with fewer distracting under-the-table BlackBerry texts. And all the research shows that that kind of singular focus will make us far more efficient.

In other words, that time-indulgent ritual thing? It might just be the perfect antidote to a time-starved world.

About the Author

Peter Bregman speaks, writes, and consults on leadership. He is the CEO of Bregman Partners, Inc., a global management consulting firm, and the author of Point B: A Short Guide To Leading a Big Change.

(Via HBR)

, , , , ,

Motivate Employees with Good Advice But InvisiblyConsider this, from Science Daily, Dec. 1, 2010:

New research by University of Minnesota psychologists shows how social support benefits are maximized when provided “invisibly” — that is, without the support recipient being aware that they are receiving it. The study, “Getting in Under the Radar: A Dyadic View of Invisible Support,” is published in the December issue of the journal Psychological Science.

In the study, graduate student Maryhope Howland and Professor Jeffry A. Simpson suggest there may be something unique about the emotional support behaviors that result in recipients being less aware of receiving support. Receiving social support, such as advice or encouragement, is typically thought of as positive, a generous act by one person yielding benefits for another in a time of need. Effective support should make someone feel better and more competent, it is generally acknowledged. However, what is supposedly considered “support” may make someone feel vulnerable, anxious or ineffective in the face of a stressor, Howland and Simpson found.

It seems to me that this study is as relevant for managers as it is for romantic partners, who were the actual subjects in the study. It is a truism that employees need support, and that enlightened management does all it can to provide support. But this study suggests that if the support is provided too obviously, too visibly, it can actually make a person feel worse. Support that is too blatant risks making the recipient feel as if he needed support, which is not a feeling most people in the workplace feel comfortable acknowledging. Well-intended though it may be, visible support can backfire, and make the employee feel resentful, insecure, and worried.

So what is a manager to do? Withhold support? We know that causes problems. Give support? We see that that can cause problems, too. So what then? Send anonymous notes of support? Sneak up from behind the employee and whisper in her ear, “We value you!” then disappear before she can turn and see you? Kidding aside, how you offer support can turn the well-intended but clumsy offer into the kind of support that actually boosts performance.

The best support comes naturally, organically; not on cue, not on script. The best support feels as if it is simply a part of the ongoing conversation in the workplace. It enters seamlessly into the discussion. If the manager intended to be supportive, the employee never detected that intention. Spouses yearn to hear the words, “I love you,” but if they are asked for or sound the least bit rehearsed, they mean nothing, or can be counterproductive. Same deal at work. Employees yearn to feel valued, but if the manager doles out statements of valuation he can actually undercut the employee’s feeling of worth.

Making an employee feel valued is one of the most important things a manager can do (my book Shine goes into some of the ways, based on the latest psychological evidence, that managers can bring out the best in people). But as the study by Howland and Simpson shows, it is also one of the most difficult things for a manager to do.

The takeaway: Learn how to value people subtly. How? Subtle actions, like making eye contact; asking a person his or her opinion on something, anything; noticing the person, not complimenting, simply noticing; recalling something the person said yesterday, last week, or last month; giving a high five; or recalling a past success when times are tough. These are subtle expressions of support — and if you start to think about it, you can come up with scores more.

But the best are the ones you don’t even think of. You just do them naturally, invisibly, because you feel what you feel. You’re glad to be working on your team and you show it. That’s the best support.

What works for you? How do you show support? What kinds of support make you feel the most valued?

About the Author

Edward Hallowell, MD, is a psychiatrist, served as an instructor at Harvard Medical School for 20 years, and is the director of the Hallowell Centers in New York City and Sudbury, Massachusetts. He has authored eighteen books, including the national bestseller Driven to Distraction, that have sold millions of copies.

, , , , , , ,

Leaders Should Lead Without ControllingThis was the fourth day of our five days together, and we were swirling in chaos. There were almost thirty of us in a small room as part of Ann Bradney’s leadership workshop I wrote about last week.

Sara* was on the floor, cradling the arm and leg she had broken several months earlier, feeling broken herself, crying as she thought about her son who died five years ago. A few feet away from her, Angelo stood with his hands on his chest, also crying, immersed in his experience of alienation from his mother. Across the room, Zoe was huddled with her sister, Chloe, as they felt the pain of losing their own mother and confronted their fear of losing each other.

As I looked around the room, I saw two or three other people scattered about, each struggling with deep emotions of loss, fear, anger, and sadness. The noise was disorienting. People were crying, laughing, shouting, hugging, and comforting each other, all at the same time. It was completely out of control.

Just like life itself.

We were a microcosm of the world and of every organization I’ve ever known. Not just the pain, though that certainly exists wherever we’re brave enough to look, but the multiplicity of activity. The variety of individuals and groups, each occupied, engulfed even, by their own concerns, needs, and desires.

To top it off, we had only one established leader, Ann, to manage the mayhem. It was an impossible job. She couldn’t be in seven places at once. She couldn’t support each of the people who needed her. She had set herself up to fail.

Which, it eventually dawned on me, was her plan all along.

Ann didn’t just let the chaos happen by accident. She welcomed it. Because the perfect ingredient to draw out leadership is exactly the one most of us, including leaders, fight so hard to avoid: overwhelm.

Leaders like to be in control. I know that’s true for me. I want things to turn out right and I feel — often mistakenly — that if I have control over them, they will.

But here’s the thing: the more control I have over something, the less room there is for other people to step into their own leadership. If Ann didn’t need the help, many of us would have sat back watching, happy to let her lead.

When I took a bird’s eye view of the room, I saw that there were only six, maybe seven, people who needed help at that moment. The rest of us, close to twenty, were in a physical, psychological, and emotional place where we could offer help.

But it’s hard to offer help, to step into your own leadership. It requires tremendous courage. You have to risk being wrong, overstepping your bounds, and standing alone.

Which is why we needed a nudge.

So Ann created a situation that she couldn’t possibly handle by herself, and people stepped up. One participant, Janice, went over to Zoe and Chloe, the two sisters, and spoke softly to them. Another participant, Holly, sat next to Sara, who was mourning the loss of her son and held her. And I went over to Angelo, who looked up at me for a moment and then fell into my arms crying.

It’s not that Janice, Holly, and I were the leaders in the workshop. The day before, it was me who was crying, and Angelo who did the comforting. But on this day, in this moment, we were in a position to reach out.

Designing chaos into a process is the antithesis of what most leaders do. Usually, we try to focus on one thing at a time. One objective, one concept, one conversation, one task.

But in real life, in real organizations, nothing happens one thing at a time. And no one can be on top of it all. At one point, one of the participants accused Ann of allowing too much bedlam. Ann’s response was swift and emphatic:

“No. People want to make the leader the one who sees and knows everything. I am just a human being. I can’t see everything. I can’t know everything. I make mistakes. When you make me more than human, you can bring me down while refusing to take responsibility or any risk. Step into your leadership now.”

But wait a second. It sounds great but what if everyone in an organization stepped into their own leadership? What if everyone followed his own impulse? Wouldn’t that lead to anarchy?

Maybe. It depends on the strength of their organization’s container. How clear is the mission of the organization? The vision? The values? The culture? If we know what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, what’s important to us, and how we operate, then there will be trust, focused action, and abundant, unified leadership. If not, there will be anarchy.

But if the container isn’t strong, there will be anarchy anyway. Because, no matter how much leaders would like to, they just can’t control everything. And trying to control the uncontrollable just makes things worse. People check out. They feel no ownership. They work the minimum. And things fall through the cracks.

Here’s the hard part: leading without controlling. Stepping into your own leadership while leaving space for others to step into theirs as well.

If you find yourself still wanting to control it all, try saying “yes” to everything until you’re overwhelmed and can’t possibly deliver. So overwhelmed that, like Ann, you will fail to be on top of it all.

If that happens, then, like Ann, you will grow leaders around you. Your failure will prevent others from making you more than human. It will encourage them to take responsibility and risks. To step into their own leadership.

And if, on a particular day, you feel good, grounded, and strong, with a little extra energy, then look around for someone else who is overwhelmed and reach out to help. Take the risk to lead.
*Names have been changed

About the Author

Peter Bregman speaks, writes, and consults on leadership. He is the CEO of Bregman Partners, Inc., a global management consulting firm, and the author of Point B: A Short Guide To Leading a Big Change.

(Via HBR)

, , , , , , , ,