As a CEO, are you leading from the outside in, or from the inside out?
It’s a question that leaders must ask themselves in a digital age, where technological advances are forcing us to embrace change at a rapid pace. Despite this, many CEOs still work in isolation, often only valuing input from a select small group of “experts” when it comes to decision-making. But this archaic model is becoming less and less effective for organizations to thrive in today’s economy.
Successful businesses are finding that an open style of leadership – one that favors meritocracy over democracy or autocratic (top-down) management – is more effective at fostering true and lasting positive change.
The Defining Characteristics of Open Leadership
Here are just a few of the characteristics that define a meritocratic style of business management:
- Lateral, two-way communication (employee ↔ management) is more effective than vertical, one-way communication (management → employee).
- Everyone plays an important role in the decision-making process. Input from employees matters just as much as input from employers, especially if that input ends up being more useful to the end goal.
- A person’s level of influence is not tied to his or her job title; it’s tied to the results he produces as an individual worker (a.k.a. “merit”)
How Open Leadership Works
It empowers your employees to provide valuable input. Organizations that employ top-down leadership techniques limit themselves. On the other hand, a model that allows for input from multiple sources, regardless of job title, opens you up to more opportunities to find, consider, and adopt solutions that result in radical change. Ultimately, this leads to increased innovation. As the old saying goes, “two heads are better than one, and three are better than two.” The more heads you allow into your overall decision-making process, the wider the possibilities when it comes to reaching a decision that results in positive organizational transformation.
It ignites passion. In a recent post, we discussed the importance of passion and purpose to igniting employee performance. When employees are passionate about what they do, they’re more engaged and more motivated to perform better. Meritocratic leadership ignites passion through engagement and empowerment. Passionate employees don’t just work for a paycheck; they value their position enough to view themselves as part-owners of your organization and will work harder to achieve a set of shared business goals.
If your workforce is stagnant, it may be a sign that your leadership style is more along the lines of old-school “outside in” thinking – in which case, it may be time for some serious evaluation.
At Throwing Words, we specialize in helping businesses harness the power of the people within their organization through a process we call “relational productivity.” It’s a method that advocates and employs open leadership to result in radical transformation from the inside out.
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