A Junto Strategy Project
It probably happens at least once a week (usually a lot more). One of my three children will come up to me with a question about whether or not they can do [fill in the blank]. For the long-term happiness of my marriage, I’ve adopted a very simple approach to handle these types of requests. I simply ask, “What did mom say?” Their response is often all I need to see to know what has happened and what mom’s response was.
This scenario is not unlike ones that play themselves out in organizations. A leader makes a decision to move his/her part of the organization in new direction or to change up the organizational structure or to prioritize a set of competencies or skills. Then someone, who doesn’t like that direction, goes to that leader’s higher up and asks about the direction.
At this point, a few different things can happen. One scenario would be that the higher-up leader sides with that employee and criticizes or rejects the new direction. Another option could be that the higher-up leader tells the employee that he/she was unaware of that direction and will need to look into it. A third option (optimally) could be that the higher-up leader states his/her alignment with and support of the initiative.
For poorly performing organizations, option one tends to be the most prevalent. On the other hand, great organizations have adopted “What did mom say” types of practices. In fact, nearly 80% of the organizations that outperform their peers in employee performance metrics, leadership bench strength, and revenue per employee have adopted a common “What did mom say” practice: They actively secure visible senior leadership support any new initiative.
This process of collaboration among stakeholders promotes two critical behaviors for a healthy organization. First, ideas are not considered in isolation. Second, the process helps to present a unified front that enables the new direction to take hold, the reorganization to be successful, or the learning initiative to stick.
They say that mom knows best. And when it comes to creating optimal business results, securing leadership support and visibility for any new initiative is the kind of practice that even mom would say is best.
 Lombardi, M. & Lahey, Z. (2013). Newbies to new leaders: closing critical skill gaps with learning. Aberdeen Group