Lead your team using Google’s “wisdom of crowds” model. You can operate a company by consensus, which is how Google operates, says CEO Eric Schmidt, but you have to have two things: You need a leader who enforces a deadline, who can create a crisis, if necessary, to get everyone through a knothole. And you need dissent. “If you don’t have dissent, then you have a king,” he says.
In meetings, Schmidt often seeks the opinion of those who have not spoken, who are likely dissenters. “That promotes the discussion and the right thing happens,” he says.
— Adapted from “A conversation with Eric Schmidt,” The McKinsey Quarterly.
Lay the foundation for tomorrow’s workforce by developing virtual teams. In a recent survey, two of three employers expect to rely more on virtual teams in the future. More than 75% of respondents noted that these teams facilitate information-sharing, and 70% said they encourage diverse thinking.
Close the gap between leader and followers by demonstrating visibly that you value employees, writes Edward Lawler III in Talent: Making People Your Competitive Advantage. The reign of the “Imperial CEO” is over. When cost-cutting is a priority, explore alternatives before cutting staff. When it’s necessary, be sure cuts are executed in a way that fits your brand.
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Step No. 1 for leading in tough times? Face facts. Bob Seelert, who has run five companies and is now chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, offers this advice: “When things are not going well, until you get the truth out on the table, no matter how ugly, you are not in a position to deal with it.”
— Adapted from Start With the Answer, Bob Seelert, Wiley & Co.