John T. Anderson, CEO, Smartway2, picks the tools he uses every day and couldn’t do his job without
1 Video conferencing tools We have a remote workforce at Smartway2, so I rely heavily on video conferencing tools to get things done. Every day I collaborate with team members across the globe. By having all our calls on video, we can share what we’re working on and build strong relationships.
Remote collaboration – and specifically remote leadership – requires specific skills, habits and routines in order to succeed. Keeping in regular contact with individuals and teams is essential, while remaining aware of who, what level of contact, and when. Having clear dashboards and reporting mechanisms is a key part of successful remote working too, so you can see a clear picture of where you’re at, then use virtual meeting time to delve into the issues that really matter.
2 My tablet As I’m often on the move, I can keep an eye on my inbox, have video calls, access files and stay productive as long as I have my tablet to hand.
I firmly believe that the future of knowledge work – which is the majority of work – is location independent. Being able to pull out my tablet and have everything I need to lead the organisation easily, is something I couldn’t live without.
3 Automation As a technology company, we’re always looking for ways to innovate not just in terms of products, but in terms of processes.
As well as automating our clients’ businesses by enabling them to take a data-driven approach to optimising their employee experience, productivity and collaboration, internally we’re always looking for ways to automate and take a data-driven approach to optimising the employee experience, productivity and collaboration at Smartway2.
This comes from a fundamental belief that repetitive tasks are best done by machines, in order to free up human brainpower to do what humans are best at: creative, cognitive, non-routine work. Gathering, processing and visualising data is one of these repetitive tasks that machines are exceptionally good at. Armed with this data, we humans can then make better, faster decisions that lead to our desired outcomes.
This drive to continuously improve effectiveness via effective human/machine collaboration spans our entire business, from marketing to engineering.
4 A servant leadership model I believe a key reason we’ve been able to attract world class talent and build close relationships with customers is our servant leadership model, which turns the traditional power leadership model upside down.
Really it’s all about putting employees and customer service front and centre. As CEO, my job is to provide our team with the support they need to get things done, in order to fulfil not just the objectives of the organisation, but the personal objectives of each individual, too.
At the end of the day, every organisation is just a bunch of people. If those people feel listened to, supported and there is two-way trust, this creates the conditions for innovation and wellbeing to thrive.
5 Clear, audacious goals We’ve expanded aggressively in the past two years, opening corporate headquarters in the US, growing our footprint in APAC and Europe, establishing new partnerships and recruiting talent; and I attribute a great deal of this success to setting clear, audacious goals that are bold and stretchy, yet achievable.
There’s more to goal-setting than meets the eye, because in order for people to feel motivated you need to strike a balance between challenge and realism. If people don’t think their goals are very challenging, or if at the other end of the spectrum they don’t think they’re realistic, this can damage motivation. We have an ambitious, creative and experienced team, so we’re lucky to be in a position to set audacious goals, and then it’s all about giving people the autonomy they need to achieve them how they see fit.