One of the most common reasons we hear why organization leaders don’t want to use crowdsourcing is they believe it will erode their ability to lead. After all, if everyone gets a say, isn’t it more difficult to lead? Won’t more participation and generating more ideas and possibilities make it more difficult to craft a strategy? Won’t people expect more if you let them participate?
Ironically, a well designed and implemented crowdsourcing engagement won’t erode a leader’s ability to lead at all, but in fact will strengthen it.
There are many ironies about crowdsourcing that fly in the face of logical thought. For example it’s commonly feared that people will say bad things about the organization in crowdsourcing engagements. Fact: they almost never do. Logic also says you have to offer large prizes to get people to participate. Fact: large prizes are only required for a small percentage of crowdsourcing engagements.
The relationship between leadership and crowdsourcing is another one of these ironies. Rather than “losing control” by letting people have a say, leaders can actually build their relationship with their stakeholders and constituents with crowdsourcing, giving them better ability to lead.
Why is that you ask? Good question!
- Great leaders are in touch with their constituents, know what keeps them up at night and empathizes. Crowdsourcing lets them stay in touch.
- Great leaders listen, crowdsourcing provides a great way to “listen” to hundreds if not thousands of people.
- A great leader doesn’t always do what the majority wants, and that applies to crowdsourcing as well. I’ve never seen, nor advised, a client to do what the crowd wants without applying their own insight, knowledge and experience first. Good crowdsourcing practice is to acknowledge the input, and communicate actions taken (with some explanation) which is good leadership.
- Great leaders seek out outlying, potentially dissenting opinions – because that’s where innovation and breakthrough come from. Crowdsourcing gives them an organized, disciplined way to surface these types of opinions in a way that can lead to constructive dialog.
And there are lots of others – in fact this recent article on leadership in Forbes spells out eight ways to spot great leadership and crowdsourcing, and if you read it, you’ll hopefully see why good leaders who aspire to be great leaders should be learning about and considering crowdsourcing.
Intrigued? Want to talk more about this? I’d love to hear from you.