Strategy vs. Tactics
Your team deserves transparency. But how much is enough and how much is too much?
Let me explain:
I had a coaching session with a client, head of product at a lucrative, Silicon Valley start-up. In a recent employee survey he had received negative feedback about the vision and mission of the company. He was baffled because employees had been more included in crafting the mission and vision statement than ever before. What gives?
He found himself struggling because he thought he had been transparent, but he was also bound to not tell a lot about upcoming plans for the business for legal reasons. The feedback was clear: “You are not acting on what you said you would. You are saying one thing, but you are not following through.” He found himself stuck. He wanted to build products, but his work demanded that he focus on more strategy, much of which he couldn’t talk about with his team.
How to Be Transparent
This is a common scenario in my coaching conversations: How to guide the ship to the grand vision for the company and yet focus on the day-to-day stuff that keeps the lights on.
During our conversation he realized his mindset was holding him back. He was focused on building products, certainly a skill he has demonstrated he has and something he is really good at. Instead what he now needed to focus on was building an organization. Thus, his peers would be equally called to act on a higher vision. This path could take on various forms — a merger or an acquisition, organic growth, and joint ventures, to name a few.
So how do you lead a team in building an organization when you can’t share all of the information with them due to legal constraints?
You point the ship in the right direction and you tell people, “Here is where we are headed.” Then you build trust by underpromising and overdelivering. You take action on what you said you would do. That’s how.