Every Christmas I wait expectantly to see what new and novel way WestJet employees create something special for this time of year. This last year they did not disappoint. In case you missed it they did "The 12 Flights of Christmas" by working with children from the Boys and Girls Club to make their perfect Christmas dream come true.
Each Year Different
For at least the last four years the staff at this airline have picked unique and heartwarming ways to say thank you and to show kindness. Their "Santa Surprise" garnered literally hundreds of millions of hits on their web site and was covered by news and TV shows around the world.
How Do You Drive Engagement?
Why do I bring this up you ask? Because WestJet prides itself on employee engagement. They use the catch phrase "every employee is also an owner!" The idea being that if every employee took ownership of the business they worked for everyone would go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure its success. It is what we call discretionary effort.
What would your business or group look like if everyone on it demonstrated this kind of discretionary effort? How much easier would it be to lead a group like this? The goal of great leadership is, in fact, to do exactly that - get your team to operate in that realm of discretionary effort.
Allow For Ownership
Giving your team the opportunity to provide input, letting them know where they stand with you and the competition, providing a voice for those closest to the action to enact improvements and recognizing those behaviours are all ways that you can ramp up your employee engagement and discretionary effort. Involvement leads to commitment and commitment leads to ownership.
Your business may not be a WestJet yet or your group may not seem that significant but give your staff some room to spread their wings and let them surprise you. What would your business look like with that level of engagement? Performance Leadership - Think About It!
Oh, and don't forget to watch out for what they do this year!
Disrupters are changes in technology, process or knowledge that fundamentally change the nature of an industry. The iPhone is a good example of a disruptive technology. The use of "big data" is very much a disrupter in the knowledge realm and has far reaching implications for every industry sector. To a lesser degree changes in approaches to process improvement like LEAN or Operational Excellence or Behavioural Based Process Improvement are also disrupters.
Why Are Disrupters Important?
Having established what a disrupter is the next question is why is this important? Ask PALM or perhaps Blackberry. Ask Atari or Commodore. These are all examples of companies that have suffered as a result of not recognizing disrupters and for not fostering a disruptive technology drive of there own. Disrupters change industry and companies within that industry that do not recognize the disruption early enough to adapt, disappear. For a current example, many feel that Apple is now struggling with staying out front with regard to introducing the next major disrupter.
It is the nature of a disrupter to come from a place of obscurity and move to a place of dominance in relatively short order. Current companies are now trying to incubate disruptive technology, processes or knowledge as a means of staying ahead of the competition. This is where operational excellence comes in. If you can create an environment where every member of the organization is invested in looking for improvements, savings or better client experience you run a better chance of incubating a disrupter.
Everyone Can Play
One company took the approach that those closest to the action are best able to identify the opportunities so created a culture that encouraged input from front line workers. In one instance a worker shared some information regarding how to get more production from a well with what was a very simple approach. The net result was that for the next year rather than having a field with declining production it actually swung to an up curve and increased production. It added a million dollars a month to the bottom line for that field and extended its lifespan considerably.
Do You Incubate Disrupters?
You may say that that wasn't really a major disrupter and you would be right. Remember the grand daddy of the iPhone was the iPod. Small disrupters lead to bigger disrupters which in turn change entire industries. The point is if your don't foster operational excellence and start the process of incubating for these things to happen you may well wind up in the same place as PALM or Commodore. The next big disruptive breakthrough could be residing on your team. Performance Leadership - Think About It!
I have written on this issue before but I ran across an excellent article the McKinsey Quarterly from 2014 by Pierre Gurdjian, Thomas Halbeisen, and Kevin Lane which perfectly summarizes my basic argument.
I am going to include the link below but the for those of you who don't have the time to read the article their premise is argued through four principles;
First, -the training does not match the "context" of where the leaders are. Principles and concepts are not tied to the issues that these leaders face in their company, day to day.
Second, and very closely related, most training "decouples" reflection on the things being taught from the real work confronting trainees.
Third, they underestimate or ignore the mindsets that create barriers toward effective leadership - in short they avoid the painful discussions around behaviours and the assumptions that go with them found in most companies.
Fourth and lastly, they fail to measure results. Often leadership development programs hesitate to "go there" as there is an underlying fear that measures around results will reflect poorly on the program - and they would be right.
I will leave you to read the article and if you are interested in finding out how a Certificate in Performance Leadership actually addresses each of these areas then don't hesitate to reach out. Performance Leadership - Think About It!
Take me to the article.