Late at night, at coffee shops, in home offices, and across the world, a growing number of freelancers and independent business owners collaborate to run much of the world as we know it.
They are highly productive, swift, and agile.
None of this logically should work – they are in diverse places, working on myriads of different platforms. Their devices are many and unique to them. All of these people, tools, and systems are connected to the hub we know as the internet. The tools and systems were not created by collective design to all be part of the whole; and in addition, many of the people who work together have never met in person.
Yet, they work…together.
This new way of doing business compares starkly to the “old school” model of corporate business, where everyone must be in one place, on the same systems, and decisions must be escalated up the chain of management and back down before implementation.
In a world where there are millions of people every day working together, there are still companies whose leaders are lamenting, “I can’t get my team to work together.”
Why isn’t this working?
There is a place for “old school” policies, procedures, and structures. But there are major lessons to be learned from the independent workforce – lessons that, if applied, have the power to affect a company’s bottom line and certainly its employee engagement.
Here are 4 Lessons Corporate Leaders can learn from the Independent Workforce
1. Give your team ownership in what they do.
This ties back to our article on empowering your team. Work with your corporate leadership team to develop decision models, where you give employees a level of decision-making with regard to their particular responsibilities. Will they occasionally make a wrong decision? Yes, of course. But so do leaders at all levels. When they make a mistake, work with them to determine a solution. This strengthens their decision-making abilities. Let them own what they do, and they will step up to the responsibility.
2. See them as a team of experts.
In the independent business world, there is little to no hierarchy. There is, however, a respect for the expertise that each individual brings to the table. As such, teams work together based on strengths and not simply on “assignments.” Do you see the strengths and expertise in each of your team members? Do you honor that in your interactions with them?
3. Listen to their input.
Corporate entities are often criticized for not listening to employees. Sadly, this is often true. Some of the best leaders across many industries are those who walk the floors and engage with employees or who go to the job sites to talk with those actually doing the work. Right now, as you read this article, there are thousands of people on conference calls, collaborating to get work done around the world. And the key is, they are requesting – and listening to – the advice of each other. Each person on the team gains knowledge when each one is asked for their respective input. Without that range of vision, companies can become closed to new ideas. In an age of innovation, “no new ideas” is a death knell.
4. Give your team freedom to be creative.
The days of “do as I say” leadership are over. The days of “share your thoughts and ideas” are upon us. Give your team time and leeway to come up with new ideas. You will be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. As a leader, be open to suggestions for new ways of doing things. This is a challenge for those who have been in business for decades. You know what has worked (and, indeed, it did); but some of those processes and procedures do not work today. Be willing to merge what is foundational and proven with new ideas and methodologies.
Do you as a leader have a team that works together? Do they feel valued as experts, have the freedom to be creative and the power to make decisions at some level? Do you listen to their input and show a willingness to actually implement the suggestions you receive when they would benefit the company?
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.