As I wrote in my last post, ecosystems and companies that have open mindsets benefit from the network effects that come with adding more participants. They believe their resources are dynamic, that it is possible to build relationships that benefit both sides. This in turn creates a flywheel effect in which learning and performance improve. In the words of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, “The learn-it-all does better than the know-it-all.”
One of the keys to unlocking the potential of open talent is for leaders to build a growth mindset. This mindset allows leaders to view the world as abundant; instead of dividing the pie that they have, they focus on creating a bigger one. Growth relationships focus on shared experiences and learning. Networked leaders have numerous obstacles to overcome, but the future belongs to them. These principles should guide their work:
1. Leadership is a Mindset
The networked leader should learn from others in the organization and around the world; find new ways to add value to their organizations; and recognize that while some things may not work out, it’s part of the learning process.
2. Don’t be Afraid to Fail
Because new knowledge is often gained through failures or errors, a networked leader must be willing to take risks in order to bring value into their organizations. A good idea might not work out quite as expected. Networked leaders have the resilience and confidence to try again. Deploying open talent techniques is often a seesaw of trial and error. Some things will work right away, but others will require some finesse to scale.
3. Develop Yourself or Get Left Behind
The networked leader is proactive about development and seeks out new ways to add value inside and outside of their organizations. There are always new problems to solve and more knowledge to gain.
4. Constantly Improve
A networked leader always thinks about ways to improve processes and systems — they don’t just maintain, they are constantly working to add new and better functionalities, and they make sure that every member of their team feels empowered to do the same. To that end, they hold hackathons for employees, encourage people who aren’t afraid to try something new to do so and put value over process. They ask why something is the way it is, and never say no reflexively.
5. Ability to Adapt
The networked leader must have the ability to adapt, to remain flexible enough to deal with change while remaining steadfastly focused on objectives. They should also be able to develop a culture of trust, where employees feel comfortable asking questions and contributing ideas. The networked leader must be an advocate for change, helping to define the vision for their organization, navigating in a direction that aligns with the organization’s goals, and implementing the processes or systems that will help them get there.
6. The Networked Leader Must Always be Learning, Whether From Peers, Colleagues or Competitors
Because everything is evolving and changing, networked leaders must strive to keep up with the latest technologies and trends. They are assiduous to share what they’ve learned with others so that everyone benefits. They are the role model for their organization; as student-leaders, they inspire their people, their peers, and their competitors.
7. Be a Super User
The networked leader not only helps everyone around them to succeed with open talent tools, they use them themselves. As Balaji Bondilli from Deloitte likes to say, “I may consult with companies on building open talent systems but I’m really only a super user of open talent.” A good networked leader is always working towards something bigger than themselves — they understand that every person has value and are willing to help anyone who is in need.
Once leadership creates the right open mindset around talent, the opportunities can become endless.