Strategy

How leaders can best leverage the wisdom of the crowd: 8 expert tips

“You must embrace the idea that all of us are smarter than any one of us.”

Business leaders often walk a lonely tightrope: How do you follow your vision of how to do things while being open to ideas from others?

To see how CEOs, managers, and others can best leverage the wisdom of the crowd to navigate uncertainty and thrive, Inverse reached out to Sara Canaday, a keynote speaker, author, and executive coach, and Philip Liebman, CEO of ALPS Leadership. Here are their tips.

8. Make time for brainstorming

“Reserve team meeting time for rich discussion, exploration, ideation, and dialogue,” Canaday said. “You can do so by sending updates, data, performance dashboards, etc. in advance and as a daily or weekly download. If you want to personalize this process, you can broadcast via video.”

7. Get new perspectives

“Find and engage a peer group with people who you can trust — and who see the world through a different lens,” Liebman said. “This means different industries, different markets, different personal histories and experience — and anything that increases the diversity of perspective you can access.”

6. Take control of your ego and find your intellectual humility

“Get comfortable with the idea that whatever you think might be wrong — or at least that there is always a better way to look at things,” Liebman said. “You must embrace the idea that all of us are smarter than any one of us.”

5. Encourage discussion

“Arm yourself with a set of questions that provoke thought and prompt discussion,” Canaday said. “Some examples include: ‘What have I left unsaid?’ ‘How can we continue to provide high-touch service in a no-hands world?’ ‘What would make you more comfortable with this new process?’”

“Seeking the wisdom of crowds is how exceptional leaders cultivate greater satisfaction and joy in the world.”

4. Really listen

“Listen to what the people who are looking to you for guidance are feeling and thinking,” Liebman said. “You might be surprised how much intelligence you will gather from people who are working on the front lines and with boots on the ground. Just remember that listening means respectfully acknowledging contributions of others (especially those you disagree with) and, again, using your emotional intelligence to demonstrate empathy as well as understanding.”

3. Realize what success is

“Remember that it is the performance of the organization that makes the leader successful — not the other way around,” Liebman said. “Tune into what makes others perform. Look for cues as to how you can make people more successful by making what is necessary possible and then help people understand why what is possible is also necessary. Leaders help others find the purpose that engages their choice to be conscientious, and to inform the kind of grit that causes people to get comfortable being uncomfortable in order to go the extra mile for the sake of the team and your customers.”

2. Provide alternative options for team insights/ideas

“Some people don’t feel comfortable speaking up in meetings or need more time to process and develop sound ideas/solutions,” Canaday said. “Having an alternative avenue for contributing perspectives/ideas will ensure you don’t miss out on a broader collection of thoughts. Having a virtual suggestion box is another way to offer anonymous input and/or to catch ‘in-the-moment’ ideas that may otherwise never see the light of day.”

1. Don’t choose isolation

“The biggest mistake leaders make is feeling that they have to go it alone,” Liebman said. “The proverb that suggests, “to go fast, go alone; to go far, go together” speaks to the very reason why isolation is both insidious and a choice. Seeking the wisdom of crowds is how exceptional leaders cultivate greater satisfaction and joy in the world — and enhance the performance of the people they lead.”

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