The definition of leadership has evolved over the years. It no longer only refers to being at the very top and driving your team, department or organization to success. Increasingly it is being realized that one’s display of leadership skills starts at whichever position one is in the organization.
Leadership should flow not just top-down but bottom up as well. The more employees display leadership at their position the more innovative, collaborative and result bearing a team becomes.
Knowledge sharing is an essential ingredient of what makes a great leader. The more it flows bottom-up the more it empowers.
When I began work 10 years ago, I quickly learned keeping one’s knowledge a secret and displaying only in front of bosses was a sure shot way to rise and shine. Guess what, I couldn’t be any more wrong than that. Now I wonder how much my knowledge would have increased had I worked towards building a knowledge sharing culture. Nevertheless, I eventually learned I was wrong and corrected it 2-3 years down the line.
Let’s decipher my experience a bit. What led to such a negative behaviour?
- Colleagues wouldn’t share their knowledge. Just to maintain an edge and a false sense of pride.
- Job insecurity. I may become insignificant to the company.
- Bosses rewarded individual brilliance rather than team achievements.
- Lack of trust. May be people you share your knowledge with might pass on to others or bosses as their own.
- May be the most knowledgeable colleagues around felt lazy or felt it’s a waste of time.
If you agree with any of these then you are one of millions of workers world wide who are elusive to the larger benefits of knowledge sharing.
So why knowledge sharing is important? Or what are the benefits of knowledge sharing?
- Removes Pressure: You no longer have to hide and learn things secretly.
- Feels Great: You feel good when you share and empower others around you.
- Build Trust: It builds trust amongst colleagues. You wouldn’t dislike a colleague who cares to share his knowledge with you.
- Innovation: It build innovation capabilities. Innovation in a nutshell is to see things differently and find different solutions. You can only do that when you have all possible alternatives on the table, which is a direct outcome of sharing knowledge.
- Performance: Your team comes up to the same performance level; productivity reaches optimum level.
- Rewards: If your organization has bonus component given out to the team; Each on of you earn a higher share if your team does well as a result of a great knowledge sharing environment.
I know point number 6 is a sticking point for many. But don’t you think you can have a better shot at that individual performance award if you have more knowledge? Besides, it is easier to win a team award than to shine individually. Without knowledge sharing, even that gets difficult to achieve.
Remember, Leadership begins with you. Knowledge Sharing starts with you.