To fuel your thinking process as a leader, you need intelligence. There are a variety of sources for intelligence.
A very valuable source is the human intelligence that comes from people who are on the scene and involved in your business at a level you can’t easily access. They talk to customers, competitors, vendors in the supply chain, and they execute your strategy.
Are you the type of person that people somehow feel comfortable just opening up to? You’ve probably experienced this with a stranger sitting next to you on an airplane. I’m amazed sometimes at the personal things people tell me.
Approachability may seem to come naturally for some. Let’s explore what causes it to happen.
A vast source of intelligence is available to you only if you tap into it.
Are you approachable? Is there a connection with each person you encounter or are you moving on to the next thing? This is a skill we can all work on. I ran into an old acquaintance recently who has the reputation for looking over your shoulder to see if there is someone more important than you while she’s talking to you. Much is written about executive presence. This isn’t a power play. We want people to be comfortable.
Are you overcoming the barrier of your position? There is something about interacting with the boss. No matter the situation there is that cloak of disconnection. How can you soften that and consciously take the stripes off to allow for a more direct human interaction? Professional but more importantly human is the goal.
Do you ask? Curiosity and genuinely wanting to know is important. People share when you’re curious. Turn on the switch with your questions.
Do you share? Think conversation. If someone shares their viewpoint on something like the quality of leads they’re getting from marketing, take the opportunity to share the challenges of doing lead scoring. Perhaps even recruit the person to participate in what marketing is working on.
Do you assimilate? Bringing back the intelligence and collating the various bits and pieces into solid evidence-based conclusions is a big challenge. Remember who provided the intelligence. You’ll want to send a thank you, of course, but follow-up and additional perspective may be necessary. Take good notes. Tie things together.
Is intelligence a priority? Every task you perform has a primary purpose. Perhaps your task is to perform a business review for one of your divisions. Every task should also have a secondary purpose: to gather intelligence. What can you learn while conducting the business review? If your secondary purpose isn’t accomplished, there is tremendous opportunity cost.
To do this week: Compare two types of typical interactions you have as a leader. Which provides you the most intelligence? Can you put your finger on why? How can you increase the intelligence value of each of these tasks?
What are your tips for consciously gathering human intelligence? Join the discussion: