Join Charlene Li for an in-depth discussion in this video Listen at scale, part of Charlene Li on Digital Leadership.
- Let's begin with listening. The best leaders understand that listening is the foundation of their leadership, and they also realize that they were born with two ears and one mouth and should probably be using them in that same ratio. To illustrate this, let's take an example of a situation where you are walking into a cocktail party. The first thing you're going to do is to listen. What are people talking about? What are you hearing them, the tone that they're using? And then, eventually, you will find a place where you can insert and begin, and be part of that conversation.
Leadership in the digital era is the same thing, and it's the ancient art of listening, but with a big update, and that update is now in a digital space, we can now listen at scale. It's no longer one on one in a cocktail conversation. It's about listening to everybody and anybody you need to be able to reach to. So that could be somebody who is at a direct report to you, just down the hall. What are they talking about on the internal social network or online? It could be frontline employees at a location down the street, or it could be customers from anywhere around the world.
The ability of digital to bring those voices right in front of you every single day, every single minute is what this opportunity is. Now, large organizations with big hierarchies have gatekeepers inside the organization to keep information from flowing up, and that's one of the biggest opportunities around digital in that you now don't have to rely on people to understand what is really going on. You may have played as a child this game called telephone, where people stand in a line and one person at one end and says, and whispers in somebody's ear, hey, this is something going on, and it gets passed on down the line until the last person repeats what the first person they think said, and it's completely garbled and messed up.
Now, in organizations where that's the way people communicate, the messages aren't always clear. But now with digital, we can skip that whole entire telephone game. You can listen to what exactly what somebody's saying right up front, in real time. You can really understand what's really going on out there, and leaders constantly say to me, what they really want to understand is what's the truth that's out there. Let me give you an example. Red Robin is a fast service restaurant chain. Had a problem in that they launched a new burger in the restaurants, and they really want to understand what was happening because they started hearing from employees that there were problems with this burger.
Aioli sauce was too slippery, the bacon was soggy, and they heard about this through their internal social network in just conversations that people were posting up. So the people at headquarters reached out to those employees and said please tell us what's going on here, give us more details. Conversation went back and forth, and in 30 days, they literally had cooked up a new recipe that they got out into those restaurants. Now, just as a comparison, it's usually between 12 and 18 months for Red Robin to get a new product into the restaurants, so not only were they able to get a change made very quickly, but can you imagine what those employees felt like.
Remember those words that we talked about before? Empowered, listened to, well, that's what digital allows us to do now. It allows us to listen and allows you to be able to listen, now not just with your ears, but also with your eyes, to listen at scale.
In this course, she explains the three steps for extending leadership into the digital space: listening, sharing, and engaging. With her tips, you can transform your professional relationships with employees, peers, and influencers. At the end of each chapter, she provides a list of questions to help you get started on your next step.
- Listening at scale
- Scanning your environment
- Choosing the right type of engagement
- Cultivating followers