retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

There’s a strange principle in some areas of technology that has a tremendous corollary to business. Essentially it comes down to this: the more the merrier.

For instance, when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, it was an amazing achievement. Yet it’s even more amazing today when you consider the universality of the phone and the incredible ease with which you can call any corner of the globe. More people getting the technology didn’t diminish it; it enhanced it.

Not that all of this is easy. In today’s world sharing dominates, shattering the old rules of control and economics. The world is awash in free apps or even free websites like this one that provide (we hope) incredible value for little of no commitment on your part. It may seem crazy - and the plummeting stock price of Facebook may bring more discussion and debate on this topic - but that’s the new world. We’re all just sorting it out.

But where there should be no debate is in management. Fast Company ran an excellent article recently on the notion of sharing and power. Essentially, the article argued that the best managers and leaders are those who are comfortable with themselves and their positions to share knowledge, opportunity and power. This entire argument has nothing to do with modern times or technology; it’s all about people.

Great bosses are multipliers who make everyone around them smarter and then reap the benefits of an engaged and high-performing team. Weak bosses diminish those around them, draining the energy and skills of their team. The article outlines three steps to get to the good side of this equation: provide choices, structure jobs to offer latitude and foster accountability.

There was a time when those in charge - whether of a company or a simple transaction - possessed more information than everyone around them. That day is long gone. Today when you shop for a car, for example, it’s easy to walk into the dealership knowing more than any salesperson did 10 or 20 years ago.

Likewise, when we interview applicants for jobs we’re aware that they have the ability through assorted websites and social media to know pretty much everything they want about our company. In fact, they may know more that the interviewer. (Conversely, we also are able to know more about them. How many job applicants would be sunk with a quick check of their Facebook pages?)

It is logical that the best way to engage our staff is to understand the new paradigm of sharing and use it to our advantage as we grow our business.

In this new world we need to engage associates like never before so we can learn what they bring to the table. Everyone has their own networks, their own bookmarked websites and apps, and no one can monitor it all. By sharing we all learn more, get smarter, stronger and more able to face the present and the future.

Yet as with so many technologically enabled skills, it begins with basic human needs. So whether or not you read the Fast Company article, ask yourself this hard question: do you diminish or do you multiply? If you said the latter, make sure you keep doing it, but if you said the former, congratulations for your honestly. Now think about how you might be able to change and grow.

And understand your bad habits are no longer secret. Change isn’t optional.

You can access the article by clicking here.
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