Turning Data Into Action: The Most Vital Role of Great Leadership

To succeed in the future of work, use data to strategically manage time, identify levers that affect positive outcomes and recognize great ideas.

Humanity has never witnessed the remarkable, instant accessibility to troves of information that we are now experiencing. This delightful advancement has inspired significant, lightning speed innovation opening our minds to transformative business thinking. With the availability of nearly unlimited knowledge also comes the responsibility to manage it, which can be a bit overwhelming. How can association executives remain focused to stay afloat during data tidal waves and steer their organization towards success?

JP Guilbault, President and CEO of Community Brands, reminds us that during times of information overload, “a leader should remain manically focused on primary missions to make money for their organization and provide value for its members.” Though the concept may seem simple, many of us struggle with becoming distracted by the ever-advancing world of technology. In this article, JP Guilbault will break down exactly what skills a leader will need to prepare for the rapidly approaching future of work.

Learn to break down your time

“A great leader must become disciplined in the use of their time,” says Guilbault. Once you have taken the time to map out and share your vision with your employees, Guilbault suggests visualizing your workdays into segments. “Leaders should try to break their day down into 40-30-20-10 percentages. Forty percent of your time should be spent with your teams asking questions, updating each other, and both receiving and giving feedback with the managers in charge of making your goals a reality.” Guilbault goes on to say, “it is crucial to listen and learn about the needs and professional goals of your employees, and just by doing so – you help to better influence and achieve your focused outcome.”

Thirty percent of your time should be dedicated to getting to know your members and the people you are serving. Guilbault tells us, “just as you would with your employees, pay special attention to the needs and goals of your members. By doing so, you can even further influence their mindset to better align with your desired outcome.”

When it comes to the next twenty percent, a skilled leader will work outside of the office and open themselves up to the current happenings within the association world. Guilbault tells us to, “go the places you wouldn’t typically go. Go learn from another association, sit on a new board, become part of a panel, and listen to the advancements and discoveries other industry experts are promoting.”

Once you’ve made a habit of continuously listening and observing the needs of those in your network, it becomes possible to devote the remaining 10 percent of your time to micro-learning. Guilbault suggests all leaders to “look for fresh ideas from all of the resources available to you. Watch a TED Talk, read a fresh idea from Twitter, or listen to a focused podcast to achieve learning throughout the day in digestible increments.” Guilbault shared that in order to remain updated he’ll carve out time before settling in for bed. “I’ll check on certain Twitter hashtags and get an idea of the various thought leaders are concentrated on. I always remain specific in the content I follow. For instance, I wouldn’t follow #Business as it is too broad, but I would rather follow #FutureofWork to really sense and discover the current industry thought.”

Knowing what you need to know

“I am in my 34th year of business,” explains Guilbault. “I started out running sales and customer support back in the day and, I promise you, I would not know how to do that job or run that function in today’s context of the role. Although as a CEO, I don’t need to. Knowing exactly how the sausage is made is not a make-or-break factor for a leader. However, what is important, is knowing the drivers and the levers that affect positive outcomes for the business.” Guilbault warns against getting lost in the weeds of new technology or micromanaging the types of data which already have a designated team. On this subject, Guilbault says, “The team you’ve built is going to know their roles better than you because as an executive, you goal isn’t to know how the sausage is made but rather, _why _it is made.”

Learn to kill ideas

When a team is passionate, ideas come naturally and with conviction. Great ideas are vital to an association’s success, but how do you predict which ideas will work towards achieving your organization’s goals? Guilbault tell us, “one of the success metrics adopted by my organization is that ninety percent of ideas should fail before making it to launch.” To some, nine out of ten ideas may not sound exactly like success but Guilbault goes on to explain his hidden logic. “When considering an idea, you need to frame it in terms of ease of implementation, time for return, and the complexity of resources needed to launch. So, when I see the ninety percent failure appear, it makes me smile because it tells me that we let the data tell us if we could make money, if our customers would want it and, if so, would they use it at scale. This shows me the progress my people are making—not just in creating ideas, but more importantly that they’re becoming better business leaders all around.”

About Community Brands & JP Guilbault

JP Guilbault currently serves as CEO and President of Community Brands, the leading provider of business management, engagement, commerce & payment solutions to member-based organizations. With 3,000 employees serving over 130,000 clients in 34 countries, CB empowers people and organizations to grow stronger, succeed faster, and achieve their dreams—because powerful work needs powerful tech. 

Learn about tech for good at communitybrands.com.