Effective leadership and effective research share at least one key, common purpose: to bring about positive change.
Think about your purpose as a leader. (And if you are reading this article, then you are undoubtedly in a leadership position currently or soon will be.) Your role, at a minimum-regardless of department-is to manage current performance levels, and ideally foster improvements. Your ideal purpose is to facilitate positive change.
Now think about the purpose of research. We gather information in research-whether from assessing actions, attitudes or perceptions-to learn and then address, correct, improve, or grow. We gather information to facilitate positive change.
Leadership and research share another common element. Both are necessary for the other to succeed.
As a leader, you need information to manage, to create, and to adapt.
You need research to gauge communications' effectiveness, to assess reasons for product penetration (or the lack thereof), member loyalty and satisfaction or employee morale. The best leaders make wise, informed decisions. And you guessed it, wise, informed decisions often come from learning of others' perspectives and input (research).
Consider a major decision you now face: a policy amendment, a member or staff initiative, a product or service change. Ask how research could provide key insights to help you make a better decision. Ask how research could provide support and rationale. Ask how others' perspectives and input from research could help you more effectively bring about positive change.
Now consider how incomplete your decision would be without such input.
Leadership needs research. Research too depends on leadership for an idea without action has little value.
"Research without leadership is dead. Leadership without research is blind."
Your purpose as a leader is to bring about positive change. Remember, research is a tool to facilitate positive change. Appropriately utilized, research can help you create the change you seek.
Neil Goldman is CEO of Goldman Consulting & Strategy (GCS), focusing on organizational development/research, speaking, and planning services. He can be reached at (310) 643-5910 or by email at ngoldman@GCSfirst.com.