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15 Leadership Tools for 2015

This is what we’re seeing out in the field as some of the best leadership tools that are being used and implemented effectively:

1. LinkedIn – LinkedIn has been around for over a decade now but its importance as a social leadership tool is unrivaled. This is a great platform to connect with other leaders, curate your resume and provide thought leadership (if that’s your thing).  Even if you’re in a secure leadership position in your company, this provides you with the ability to connect with like-minded people in your industry and expand your portfolio of resources.

2. Super 6 – a tool to quickly highlight the top 6 goals of a company, a department or an initiative, we’ve used this tool to even drive quarterly action as a Super 6 in 60 days poster. This helps focus people on core elements that are needed in the next 30 or 60 or 90 days as a way to drive execution and delivery.

3. From the Desk Of – We highly encourage all our senior leaders to create a “From the Desk Of” correspondence. So often senior leadership misses its opportunity to create ‘touch points’ of communication with their people.  This newsletter (or email or short video) highlights monthly insights or key points to focus on from the senior leader.  Every time we’ve used this tool, we’ve received raved reviews from ‘floor’ saying they feel more connected, more engaged and have a better understanding of the business mission.

4. Basecamp – We have used this platform for about a year launching over 24 teams in one organization. This internal social network allows you to put team members in certain ‘projects.’  The tool allows for chat, upload of files, discussion groups, photos and video.  Each team member can go to their project and be updated in real time with what’s going on.  You can also subscribe for a daily email sent to you on a list of items that have been added to specific projects.

5. Case for Change: Many times leadership do ‘first step actions’ to an initiative (because we love action!!) without ever presenting a discrepancy for what was done in the past and why the action needs to take place.  In order to change and be innovative and to reject status quo a Case for Change has to be established first (this is based on the long time work of John Kotter, Richard Beckhard, David Gleicher).  This can come in the form of a white paper, From the Desk of, a Town Hall meeting or a dynamic video interview.  A case for change addresses questions like, “What is the background for the change?  What has led up to this need to change?”; “What will the change require?  What will it cost us to change?  What will it cost us if we don’t change?” and “What will happen if we stay the same?  Why should we act now?”

6. Instagram – This photo filter app gives photos an artistic look. This platform has also become a very popular social network among Millennials as their prized Facebook has become more of the “yellow pages” for everyone else.  The reason we mention this as a great tool is to encourage leaders to take more photos and use more visuals to highlight stories and culture to drive change.  On the job and see something you like or want to take a ‘selfie’ with the employee of the month – whip out Instagram and snap away. Remember ‘baiting the hook to suit the fish,’ if we’re looking for more engagement and receptivity from the new workforce, we have to use the right bait.

7. Lean Team Daily Management System – We believe implementation of teams or collaboration with integration into a Lean Daily Management System is the best way to provide desired results. Too often the LDMS is static, boring, and quite frankly lacks the most important element – people!  This integration focuses on these basic principles: Focus on the customer (both external and internal) in all activities (customers define quality), Prevent errors before they occur by focusing on process improvement, Never be satisfied with performance; continuous improvement is a way of life, Base decisions on data not on opinions and assumptions, Involve all associates in the effort (empower them to take action), Recognize problems as opportunities to demonstrate excellence, Demonstrate constancy of purpose day after day, Commit to continuous education and training, and Maintained and information shared by team members.  These along with metrics are showcased on boards throughout the organization.

8. SurveyMonkey this platform has a consistent pattern of getting better and better as it matures. This easy and modern looking survey tool is great to do a long 100 question 360 Review or for a quick 10 question survey as a pulse point on a current initiative. We mention this because we think it’s important to use data and ongoing communication in order to understand where your workforce is at (and not assume you ‘just know’).

9. SquareSpace – cheap, easy, and looks gorgeous, this pre-template website maker is perfect for leaders looking to start up mini-sites for certain causes, programs or mini business units on the fly. Younger professionals will continue to look for tech, modern design and engaging platforms in order to be sold on the business and the mission.  This a great tool to drive Cases for Change, new initiatives, and selling ideas.

10. D.I.L.O Chart – A Day In the Life Of chart provides clarity for leaders about the daily work functions of their job. This systematically walks a leader through his/her day and points out time for pre-shift to dos, team huddle points to make, walk-arounds, trainings, team meetings and evaluation time.

11. Daily Huddle - The Daily Huddle is a stand-up meeting held at the top of the shift for 5-10 minutes when the team or department discusses the results from the previous day based on the metrics and plans for the current day, making modifications as needed. This is a great tool to get everyone fired up for the day, encourage solidarity and set the game plan for the day.

12. Twitter the main question that comes up with this 140 character sharing tool usually is, “well I don’t know what to share.” If that’s the question then you’re using Twitter wrong.  Twitter, from a leadership perspective, should be an aggregator of massive amounts of information in a quickly digestible, real time feed.  New Directions subscribes to news sources, industry experts, brands, and other thought leaders as a way to stay current.  Every morning we can go to Twitter and in 5 minutes we have been updated on most cultural, societal, industry-oriented news.  If you want more information on a particular headline usually a link is provided within the post where you can learn more.

13. Skill Scan – The Skill Scan chart asks each person to identify job experiences, knowledge, hobbies and activities, and even personality preferences that would contribute to the success of the team, project or topic. Through this process of everyone providing their own personal talents, the team can quickly see the amount of talent and resources around the table.  Then you simply ask:  would you be willing to contribute these skills and talents to help our work.  The answer is always “yes.”  This helps break silo-thinking and allows everyone to ‘bring everything to the table’ regardless of title, department, etc.

14. Brain Writing – Begin this great brainstorming process with each person writing three ideas on a sheet of paper for the indicated project or initiative needing creative ideas. Each person then passes his or her paper into a common “pool” and pulls a new sheet from the pool to add 3 more ideas. Repeat the rotation until ideas are exhausted. This is a great tool to encourage synergistic idea creation (creating one idea off of another).  It also allows quiet members to have a chance to participate, sensitive topics can be addressed and it generates about 50–75 ideas within 10–15 minutes.

15. Focused Post-It Message – Once a week meditate on one personal or professional area of development or goal that you want to achieve (be more assertive, focus on time, build better relationships, work/life balance, etc.) and write that down on a post-it note. Take that post-it note and put it on your computer screen or the wall in front of you.  This is a great visible tool to remind you daily of the area you want to focus on to improve; let it become your mantra for the week.

What tools are you look forward to this next year?  What 3 from the list are you going to try out?  Let us know! Leave a comment below!

One Response to “15 Leadership Tools for 2015” Leave a reply ›

  • Love the “Brain Writing” idea. We have just started a Recognition Committee which I facilitate and this will be a great way to get the creative ideas flowing AND to it as a cohesive team. Thanks for always sending something I can use!

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An innovative training and employee development firm located in southern Vermont since 1984, we specialize in helping organizations get the most out of their people by raising the bar, inspiring potential and partnering with organizations to build a people-centered, high-engagement culture.

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