Misunderstood as a leader? It’s time to “work out loud”

By Brad Palmer

2 min read

Misunderstood as a leader? It’s time to “work out loud”

As a leader, I’ve oftenfelt misunderstood. Employees seldom understand what I actually do. Sure they get the big stuff—like when I get everyone fired up about our grand vision or communicate a key goal. But when it comes to the smaller day-to-day activities, most don’t have a clue as to how I actually invest my time.

In a larger organization, this is easy to understand. But it's not just a question of “organizational distance”. As a leader, you interact with many people, each of whom only gets a tiny glimpse into what you do. They don’t see the many other interactions that happen each day to enable employees, clarify vision, and build external alliances.

Fortunately, modern communications platforms provide a simple fix. They make it easy to “work out loud”.

What is working out loud? 

John Stepper said it well:

“Working out loud is just narrating your work and making it observable.”

With a modern communications platform, working out loud becomes straightforward. Leaders ca write monthly blogs, comment on other people's articles, or provide short updates through live-streams. A well-designed communications platform (easy to scan and free from noisy updates), provide a real sense of being part of a connected team accomplishing things together.

In fact, they're not just for leaders. Most people working in a complex or creative workplace will benefit from working out loud.

Often everyone is heads down on their specialized part of the grand plan, and hoping that the other essential bits are getting done and it will somehow fit together. Working out loud provides an efficient and vibrant way to connect all these micro-contributions together in real time. It creates a connected team.

Don't be intimidated to work out loud

The idea of working out loud can seem daunting at first. And ,ost people are a bit intimidated to start. Here are some wise words from John Stepper:

“Simply post about what you’re working on every day. Who you’re meeting with. The research you’re doing. Articles you find relevant. Lessons you learned. Mistakes you made.”

While it's great for everyone to get involved in this, leaders are the key to making it happen. It's really not that hard because there's actually little to change. Just start letting people know what you are up to in real time.

By doing this, they'll quickly learn what you really care about and how you support each of them. Moreover, next time you advocate a major change, they will understand where you are coming from and trust where you are heading.

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Brad Palmer

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