I heard from two Romanians, a Hungarian, Venezuelan, Pakistani, and one American. I ran an experiment that shed an eerie light on the book that Jennifer and I have coming out in three weeks, and it also reinforced my thinking about the importance of this “Everyday Leadership” I keep writing about.
The story: I wanted a 90-second video for my intro leadership class today at Berkeley. I envisioned a series of fast-paced, four to five-second sound bites of people saying things like “there’s a total lack of leadership.” I might have been able to create it, but it would taken me hours. Graham Davis said I should check out freelancer.com.
So, I went there, described my project, and requested bids. Within 15 hours I had six bids which originated from the countries I mentioned above. I accepted the bid from TinyRoomProductions for two reasons: she had a good rating on the service, and I wanted to keep the work in the U.S. (she wasn’t the low bidder). So, what does this have to do with Jen’s and my forthcoming book, with Everyday Leadership, and your week ahead?
Our book is about what forces so heavily struck Michigan and its work force. Namely, we’re in a post-Tom Friedman world where the earth is flat and connected. Companies and countries are going after our business, as did my five bidders from “developing” countries. American arrogance says such countries suffer from economic ignorance. But, we are the foolhardy ones if we think we are entitled by our history, freedom, or brilliance to dominate economically. Jennifer and I assess the nature of this global change and offer some new prescriptive strategies to adjust to this ferocious, free-lancing world. Now, what about this story is germane to our micro-worlds where as Everyday Leaders we try to lead every day?
We need to learn to generate value from every individual by creating organizational cultures that function like Freelancer, tapping the talent as I tapped Tiny Room Productions, a.k.a. Brooke who, for all I know is 15 years old and creates with an iPad her parents gave her for Christmas. There are tens of thousands of unemployed young American college grads who’ve learned Movie Maker, who watch YouTube on a daily (hourly?) basis and who have video cameras on their phones, so why did I only have one bid from the U.S.? Because we’re not doing enough to generate initiative. Every parent, boss, coach and teacher must be developing self-starters, not waiters – pun intended! In addition, our organizations need to create fluidity and transparency to allow individuals to “bid” on the work. We need to put our needs out there and say, “who can do this?” And we need to put out not only tasks but goals and say, “who can figure a better way to get to these goals?”
Seek bidders! And become a bidder yourself. On the plane from Detroit yesterday I met a computer programmer. He said their ten-year old company had been driven by the sales team and growth had been marginal at best. The I.T. geeks grumbled about the narrowness of the sales force and their limiting strategy. They saw an opportunity to tweak the product and enter a whole new, much bigger market; they grumbled among themselves until they got bold enough to go to the CEO. He gave them tacit permission to experiment on the side and started to implement their beta. After a month of work he saw more growth than the company had experienced in the prior year. Now, the IT creators are the main drivers at the firm. Everyday Leaders initiate. They bid on the work.
If you’re “da boss,” how can you create the on-ramps, the access points, so your people can contribute on the big goals and important tasks? In your company (church, school, family, etc.) Everyday Leaders are lurking (or smirking?) at what’s happening. How do you get them to BID on the work? In today’s world to thrive, you’ve got to open the work a whole lot to
Lead with your best self,