People love to joke that robots are going to someday steal our jobs.

Don’t panic — nobody is being replaced just yet. You can put down your stapler.

But don’t relax, either. Because it’s time to revolutionize the way middle management utilizes Big Data.

The role of data collection and analysis commonly falls on the shoulders of middle managers. Given our increasing reliance on data, many business decisions are only made if they can be supported by data. This raises an interesting question: Do we still need middle management if Big Data is making all of their decisions for them?

My answer: Yes and no. Big Data should replace some traditional management positions and help to evolve the roles of the remaining ones.

For example, Tom Montgomery, co-CEO of clothing brand Chubbies, explained that traditional marketing events were developed by managers who thought about the “why” behind their companies’ events — and an associate would make the “how” work. (read more…)

It was another late night returning home from a business trip this week. Spring weather in Denver has been rainy for a week straight. We need the moisture (not as badly as other parts of the country), so no complaints.

The overcast was heavy with a light sprinkle as I left the airport on the hour’s drive to our mountain neighborhood. There was little traffic at midnight. When I got within 2 miles of our home, a heavy fog stopped me cold.

Visibility was less than 10 feet (!). I could barely see the center line, much less the outer edges of our paved two-lane highway. The rest of my drive home was at less than 5 mph, sometimes dead stopped, creeping along to ensure I was on the road, not heading off of it!

It was an unsettling end to an otherwise boring drive home. I simply couldn’t see. The fog caused me to slow way down, to discount my years of experience (driving on this road), and to increase my frustration and anxiety. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

How well do you push your own thinking before involving others?

  • Very well — I advance ideas as much as possible before relying on others: 59.4%
  • Well — I could stand to do a little more thinking though: 36.32%
  • Not well — I’m overly reliant on others to advance the thinking: 3.42%
  • Poorly — I rarely advance the thinking before involving others: .85%

Think Then Think Some More. Investing time thinking through your ideas is worth the effort. It increases efficiency as you’re not wasting a stakeholder’s time by having them think through something you can figure out. It builds your skills in terms of creativity and anticipation. It also improves your reputation as a more strategic thinker. So the next time you’re about to involve a stakeholder in your thoughts, pause and ask yourself if you’ve thought about the issue as much as you can. (read more…)

Customer service is something that is a reflection of corporate values.

Good service is a reflection of good values. When an employee says that management makes it easy to do what’s right, it means they are teaching employees to put customers first and, most importantly, backing it up by example.

Organizations whose cultures place a premium on doing what’s right are organizations for which employees want to work and customers want to patronize.

 

John Baldoni is chair of leadership development at N2Growth, is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2014, Trust Across America named him to its list of top 100 most trustworthy business experts. Also in 2014, Inc.com named Baldoni to its list of top 100 leadership experts, and Global Gurus ranked him No. 11 on its list of global leadership experts. Baldoni is the author of more than a dozen books, including his newest, “MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership.”

If you enjoyed this article, join SmartBrief’s e-mail list for our daily newsletter on being a better, smarter leader. (read more…)

In my latest book. I describe Hidden Leaders as the people in companies that provide a powerful leadership presence despite the fact that their title or position provides them little to no authority. In fact. the topic I’ve received the most feedback on from the book is the importance of leading through relationships.

To the naked eye, it may seem they are simply able to get things done. Look closer, and you’ll see that they are demonstrating strong leadership and influence by dint of relationships they’ve developed. Look closer still, and you’ll see that it isn’t simply niceness or collegiality that has earned them this influence. Too many people seek to establish trusting business relationships centering on likeability. I’m not suggesting that likeability isn’t good, only that it isn’t sufficient. When I observe Hidden Leaders in action, they lead through relationships in the following ways: