Start micro-involving to build stronger connections

by | Mar 10, 2013 | Blog | 0 comments

Little is the new big. The benefits are huge.

Think micro-financing, micro-learning and micro-breweries.

Yes, there’s also micro-managing. We’re not going there because micro-managing is the antithesis of this post.

However, in the space between micro-management and macro-leadership, there’s plenty of room for senior leaders to benefit from a new type of stakeholder involvement—micro-involvement, as I’m calling it.

In this context, micro-involvement follows in the footsteps of macro-leadership.

Macro-leadership is the vision thing. Macro-leaders—generally senior leaders in the C-suite—define the future they want to build. They create and clear the path to get there.

Macro-leaders also influence others to join them along with this path. They work to create committed employees, customers, investors and other stakeholders.

To influence effectively, leaders need to listen and involve stakeholders. Stakeholders need to get onto their feet and start to walk on the path to experience the vision and change the leaders have defined and are creating.

But leaders shouldn’t stop there. They should get involved directly with employees too.

Being side-by-side with employees is a powerful way for leaders to demonstrate their commitment, build greater shared understanding and buy-in and ensure that they and employees are moving together on the same clear path.

Leaders also get valuable, real-time unfiltered feedback and they start to build stronger personal connections with employees. Informal conversation and shared experiences influence more than speeches.

Yet, leaders have many demands on their time and traditional involvement activities can require a huge chunk of time.

Here’s the value of micro-involvement, my new school replacement to the old school leader visibility programs: Leaders can set aside short blocks of time—30 to 90 minutes—to do meaningful activities with employees.

For example, consider micro-involvement tactics:

  • Doing tag-alongs to visit customers.
  • Joining a project planning meeting.
  • Evaluating a new vendor.
  • Using the company products together in either a real or simulated situation.
  • Sharing meals in the company cafeteria.
  • Enjoying a micro-brew at a local pub. 
  • Walking around the campus or business park.

The options and opportunities for connections are vast. And the actions can help build some of the new leadership skills, including immersive learning ability, that futurist Bob Johansen wrote about in his book Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World.

Micro-involvement makes involvement more convenient, engaging and doable for all. By finding small ways to interact and communicate, you’re respecting everyone’s time.

More importantly, you’re sharing diverse new points of view, strengthening relationships and building stronger foundations for greater credibility and trust. As Patrick Lencioni describes in his book The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, you’re tapping into the “more-than-sufficient intelligence and expertise” your organization already has, which makes your organizational healthier.

In contrast, the old visibility programs, which typically feature leaders hitting the speaker circuit or conducting listening tours, can feel stale and backslide into one-way communication if you’re not careful. Repeating programs of the past or otherwise standing still makes you fall behind, as explained in FLIP to thrive in our VUCA world.

Switching to micro-involvement from traditional visibility programs may require a little more thought and planning at first.

By taking tiny steps to use the more available small time slots, you can introduce fun experiences and reap big benefits for all who participate.

And if you and other leaders in your organization are already doing micro-involving, kudos to you! You now have a name for it. And I’ll toast you with a micro-brew. And please share your experiences here.

And if you’ve not yet tried micro-involving, how about taking some baby steps either on your own or with help from me?


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