Leadership

Why Do We Rely On Our Gut Feeling

Why is it that even as our ability to objectively evaluate vendor bids for outsourcing has improved, we rely as much if not more on our gut feelings than we do on hard, objective data? 

How To “Follow Your Gut”

AUTHORED BY GUY WOLF, TRANSFORMATION EXECUTIVE @ GUIDEIT

 Guy Wolf, Transformation Executive @ GuideIT

Guy Wolf, Transformation Executive @ GuideIT

Early in my career, a manager told me how he made important decisions.  “I always follow my gut.  In fact, I’ve put on so much weight in this job, that my gut sticks out and I literally have to follow it wherever I go!”  Kidding aside, he did stand out among leaders as being able to cut through the fog of data – some missing, some conflicting, and some just plain wrong – to guide his team along a path that was not always the obvious conclusion. 

In leading one company through an outsourcing decision, we arrived at a point where the investigation had been completed.  Two organizations were deemed qualified, capable and willing to work with us to take on a large service obligation to support the client company.  This would have meant significant savings and access to resources for the client and significant revenue and favorable marketing publicity for the service provider.  After negotiating the contracts, a key leader at the customer told us his gut was telling him not to do this deal.  What happened next made the difference in maintaining a cohesive team that would continue to work with both vendors in other ongoing relationships. 

There are at least two paths leaders follow when making this “gut calls.”  One I would call the “trust me” path.  It’s fast.  It gets to the “right” decision very often, and it avoids the hard work of forging a consensus among people with different preferences of outcomes.  When done well, it can lead to a sense of awe and glory for the leader.  “Brilliant, if a bit abrasive,” others may say of this leader.

But we ignore our sixth sense at our peril.  “Gut Feel” or “Intuition” is the stuff we know, even though we don’t know how we know it.  Or in psychology terms:  "rapid cognition or condensed reasoning that takes advantage of the brain's built-in shortcuts." (Psychology Today, 21-Aug-13 https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200704/gut-almighty It is no less valid than other types of formal analysis. But because it is hard to demonstrate, it is frequently kept hidden.

The other path, and the one this leader chose, was to engage an impartial advisor to help document the pros and cons of multiple courses of action – some of it in spreadsheets, some in narrative.  And he brought together the people who spent so much time and effort in the selection process to weigh in on the topic.  It was an investment of several hours, and under a tight deadline.  But allowing the entire team to engage in bringing these other factors to light meant arriving at the decision that preserved the outstanding working relationships they had built together within the client organization, as well as with the finalist vendors who continue to support this client in other ways. 

We would like to hear from you how you use your “gut feelings” in your decision making.

What Defines A Good Leader?

AUTHORED BY CHUCK LYLES, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER @ GUIDEIT

 Chuck Lyles, Chief Executive Officer @ GuideIT

Chuck Lyles, Chief Executive Officer @ GuideIT

A good leader is always striving toward bettering themselves as an individual and approaching every task with an attitude of servitude. The only way you are going to know what your team needs from you in order to be more successful is to listen to them. Successful teams perform much better when they know they have confidence that you chose the right team to get the job done.

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Listening, possessing confidence, and respect for, and in, your team are only a few traits that make up a great leader.  But leaders must also work toward bettering themselves as individuals if they want their team to listen, respect, and have confidence in them.  It works both ways.  Leaders must not only make a call to action to their team for these qualities, but they must make a call to action for themselves which requires lifelong tuning.

1.      Accountability

Extraordinary leaders take responsibility for everyone's performance, including their own. They follow up on all outstanding issues, check in on employees, and monitor the effectiveness of company policies and procedures. When problems arise, they identify them quickly, seek solutions, and get things back on track.

2.      Honesty

Strong leaders treat people the way they want to be treated. They are extremely ethical and believe that honesty, effort, and reliability form the foundation of success. They embody these values so overtly that no employee doubts their integrity for a minute. They share information openly and avoid spin control.

3.      Coaching

The best leaders guide employees through challenges, always on the lookout for solutions to foster the long-term success of the organization. Rather than making things personal when they encounter problems, or assigning blame to individuals, leaders look for constructive solutions and focus on moving forward.

4.      Awareness

A great leader conducts themselves in a way that sets them apart from their employees--not in a manner that suggests they are better than others, but in a way that permits them to retain an objective perspective on everything that's going on in their organization. 

5.      Decisiveness

All leaders must make tough decisions.  It goes with the job. Extraordinary leaders must possess a high level of independence and execute difficult and timely decisions made in the best interests of the entire organization. Many decisions require a firmness, authority, and finality, but an extraordinary leader also knows when not to act unilaterally but instead foster collaborative decision-making.

Human dignity, personal responsibility, and humility should always be at the forefront of a good leaders thoughts and executions, and it takes daily conditioning and effort. 

The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born. —Warren Bennis

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Leader Achievement: Advancing People Forward

AUTHORED BY JEFF SMITH, VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES @ GUIDEIT

 Jeff Smith, Vice President of Sales @ GuideIT

Jeff Smith, Vice President of Sales @ GuideIT

I have always been fascinated by the different leadership styles I have witnessed and have worked for in my 35 years in the IT field.  It is my belief that a leader, good or bad, has a direct impact on the achievements and accomplishments of those who work for them. I also believe that one’s leadership style is not something that is taught, rather is inherent in their overall personality.

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If someone in their everyday life is known as a caring, giving person, they will tend to lead with a style that emphasizes caring more about individual and team achievements than their own personal achievement. If someone in their everyday life is more self-centered, caring more about themselves rather than others, they will tend to focus on trying to advance their own career off the work of their subordinates, and spending the majority of their time managing UP versus managing across.

When I became a leader over an IT Business Development team in my early 30’s, I felt a calling to lead with the same personality and purpose that I believe I have in my everyday life.   I felt a responsibility to help others learn and grow, to have direct communications with them, to take responsibility, and truly wanted to contribute to the success of each individual, the team and a bigger purpose.  Our overall goal was to find, close and sign new business, which we did well.  But for me, signing business never yielded the same reward as watching the development of the team and individual team members, getting compliments about a team member, or having associates from other teams say that they would love to be part of Our Team.  And there was nothing better than having a newly signed customer tell you what they saw in us over the competition was a better team of people and a team that they wanted to partner with.

When you become a leader, it’s my belief that your greatest achievements come from the opportunities you provide team members for personal growth, from the recognition of your team members for their dedication and their hard work, and most importantly when you know and feel they embrace you and trust you as their leader.

So if you are a leader constantly ask yourself, how you can best lead them, serve them, support them and engage with them. When you are thinking of these things I believe you have achieved being a great leader. 

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Servant Leadership…How to Build Trust in The Midst of Turmoil

AUTHORED BY Ron hill, Vice president, sales @ GUIDEIT

 Ron Hill, VP of Sales 

Ron Hill, VP of Sales 

It was a sunny winter day and I had just started as the Client Executive at one of the largest accounts in the company. Little did I know, clouds were about to roll in. The CIO walked into my office and sat down with a big sigh. She communicated that they were ending our agreement and moving to a different service provider. We had 12 months. It required immediate action by our company, implications in the market would ensue, and an environment of uncertainty was born for our team of more than 700 people providing service support.  

This was no time to defend or accept defeat. We had to act. Our account leadership team readied the organization for the work ahead and imminent loss. We formally announced the situation to the organization. There were tears and some were even distraught. Our leadership team had not faced this situation before. The next 12 months looked daunting.

Regardless, it was time to lead. We created a “save” strategy and stepped into action beginning with daily team meetings. We invested time prioritizing and sharing action items and implications about information systems, project management, and the business process services. It was our job to operate with excellence, despite the past. It was our job to honorably communicate knowledge to the incoming service provider. One of the outcomes of our work was a weekly email outlining past week accomplishments and expectations for the next week. The email often included a blend of personal stories and team success. We even came up with a catchy brand for the email…Truth of the Matter. It turned out to be a key vehicle that kept our teams bonded and informed. Our leadership team used it as a vehicle to help maintain trust with the team. 

During our work, we also began to rebuild trust with the customer as we continued to support them in all phases of their operation. Because of our leadership team’s commitment to service, transparency, and integrity, the delivery team was inspired in achieving many great milestones during those 12 months. We were instrumental in helping our customer achieve multiple business awards including a US News and World Report top ranking. We also found ways to achieve goals that established new trends in their industry. Before we knew it, the year had come and gone and we were still there. 

Reflecting back, since that dark day when the CIO informed me that we were done, it was actually the beginning of more than a decade-long relationship. The team had accomplished an improbable feat. In the end, it was the focus of our leadership to come together with a single message and act with transparency…letting their guard down to build an environment of trust with the team and with the customer. This enabled all of us to focus on meeting the goals of the customer, together.