Intentional Leadership

The importance of the first 90 days in a new leadership role is undisputed. In The First 90 Days, Michael Watkins notes that, “transitions are critical times when small differences in your actions can have disproportionate impacts on results (p. xi). Knowing that is true, why is it commonly reported that 40 percent of newly promoted leaders fail within 18 months of their promotion? A statistic that hasn’t changed much in a decade.

Is it possible executive failure rates have something to do with where new leaders focus their efforts? Finding two or three quick and significant wins shouts “results-focused” to the people that hired you. But if the people following you don’t know enough about you to trust you and buy into your vision, those quick wins may be all you get.

In Leading with Intention: Every Moment is a Choice, Mindy Hall points out that establishing trust is the foundation for a leader’s future success. She believes connections with people must come first, that people won’t commit to a leader’s cause and vision unless they feel they know the leader well enough to have confidence in him or her.

The risk of failure remains if a leader does not recognize that there is a distinct difference between building relationships and valuing people. Getting to know people, telling the team you can’t do it without them, and giving people challenging opportunities will feel more like manipulation than effective leadership if the leader does not genuinely care about and value the people he or she leads. Valuing people is a belief before it is a behavior. A leader cannot show value without genuinely holding value. Executive development programs that focus on techniques without an equal focus on character, poorly equip leaders to achieve sustainable results.

Big Data — Little Action

Big Customer Data–Little Executive Action

Tech innovator IBM announced this week it will invest $3 billion USD over four years to create an Internet of Things business unit to help clients make better business decisions. The Business Standard reports the cloud-based platform IBM is creating is designed to help clients and ecosystem partners built IoT solutions.

Gartner reports that by 2020, 30 billion wireless devices will be connected on the Internet of Things. Cisco estimates that by 2020 the IoT will generate $14.4 trillion in incremental revenue. While those number are staggering, what is equally surprising is IBM’s estimate that “90 percent of all data generated by devices . . . is never analyzed or acted on.”

Soliciting (or secretly gathering) customer feedback becomes little more than a waste of resources and an annoyance for the client if the customer does not see clear, decisive action taken as a result of consumer input. It appears our problem is not as much a lack of quality data as it is a gap in our knowledge, ability, or willingness to act on what the data is telling us. Terabytes, petabytes, and exabytes of customer data may tell companies as much about themselves as they reveal about their customers–and executives don’t like what they are learning. Data provides knowledge that changes thinking. New thinking leads to better behaviors. More effective behaviors lead to different results.

It doesn’t take a $3 billion investment before companies can make better business decisions. The decisions that drive exponential growth are those that help an enterprise become maniacally customer-centric and visibly responsive to customer input. The Internet of Things will transform how we conduct business. Responding to what we learn will multiply who we get to do business with.