I was led to the Purposeful Leaderships’ blog, “Leading from the Heart” by Janna Rust earlier this week. Leading from the heart is a trait of cooperative intelligence, namely cooperative leadership as it rings of caring and authenticity. Janna also discusses taking care of your reporting people by being there for them and listening. Another great point is to “be protective” of your reporting people and let them know you’re all on the same team.
So many things I read about leadership focus on “managing up”, that is impress your bosses. This often comes at the expense of managing your subordinates, who are doing the work! Yet it’s a delicate balance since your boss decides on your pay raise, can open a lot of doors, and often controls or influences budget moneys allocated to your projects. Whether with bosses, peers or subordinates, cooperative leadership is more about “them” and less about me.
In competitive intelligence and research, many of us don’t have any reporting people and report into another functional area of the company such as Sales, Marketing, Strategic Planning, Product Development or Research & Development. Often enough, they aren’t quite sure what to do with us.
Cooperative and purposeful leadership skills are all the more essential when you rely on other people to give you great information or intelligence who don’t report to you, and your boss perhaps views you as an outlier since competitive intelligence doesn’t quite fit into anyone’s area.
I spent a lot of time meeting with people and listening to their business problems as a competitive intelligence manager. I was really attuned to emotional intelligence as I dealt with my network of contacts and internal company customers and was sensitive to how they were motivated. I would attempt to match my communication style with theirs, including my body language. This was how I behaved whether dealing with peers, subordinates, my internal clients, my sources or my superiors.
I was protective of my sources, especially Sales. Everyone in marketing wanted Sales’ input into their projects. Over time I became the “unofficial” marketing liaison person to Sales. This almost eliminated the number of requests that went to Sales for quick turnaround corporate projects. I made it my business to have more interaction with Sales, and to let them know I reduced their work load, and appreciated that their time should be spent selling. This was the most purposeful leadership I had while at Verizon. I knew I needed to be cooperative in order to gain sales intelligence and customer’s input to be successful in competitive intelligence.
In what ways are you purposeful and cooperative in your leadership and management?