Leverage Your Wisdom

Wednesday, September 7 2011

Your organization has a deep well of collective wisdom. If you draw ideas and actions from it, you can take your organization to exceptional levels of success.

Although businesses often apply financial leverage, investing small amounts to earn greater returns, they rarely leverage their investment in the wisdom of employees and consequently miss significant rewards.

Wisdom is accumulated learning. As individuals work on a job, they build understanding about how some efforts create great results and others reap very little. Unfortunately, they seldom have the opportunity to leverage the wisdom they have gained.

How can a leader leverage wisdom?

Provide a purpose to use wisdom.

Employees want to feel their efforts are worthwhile; that they make a significant, positive contribution to people and society. Connecting people to a clear mission, which describes what the organization does for its clients, and to a vision, that states what the organization will become in the future, helps people feel they are part of something important.

Create a culture that values wisdom.

Employees need to know they are valued, respected and appreciated. Treat them exactly as you do your clients. Determine their needs and desires; and, endeavour to satisfy them. Train employees to identify the needs and desires of their internal customers and to use their wisdom to satisfy them more effectively.

Build a learning organization. Enable everyone to stop and think about how they can do things better. Allocate time for everyone to pause from working in their jobs to work on their jobs.

Build teams of learning leaders.

Nurture leadership. Help everyone to take the initiative to find ways to do their work better. They can work with others to answer questions like:

  • In what ways are we wasting our time?
  • What is the organization doing to cause us to do it this way?
  • What are we doing to cause this?
  • How can we do our jobs to get better results with less effort?
  • Is the most appropriate person doing each task?

Be transparent and honest with results.

Measure and share the organization’s key results. When employees see this, they feel respected and important. Thus, the organization sets a standard for behaviour. Cascade this throughout the organization by measuring and sharing the results of every division.  The message tone should always be positive, with appropriate acknowledgement of shortfalls.

Institute an ongoing system of learning.

Identify and document everything that has been learned about achieving better results.  Institute the best processes as official procedures, until wisdom and learning discover a better way.

Employees who see the value in what they do, work in a wise culture, take leadership roles, see the organization’s results, and know learning is ongoing, will use their wisdom to extract greater rewards for themselves and for their organization.