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Leadership at D2L- Deliver Awesome Outcomes


**Welcome to a series of posts about what leadership looks like at D2L. Here at D2L, we recently shared the leadership competencies/behaviours that we know are required to transform the way the world learns. We considered both business and client goals and needs, and our drive to continue to disrupt the world of learning for K-12, Higher Ed and Corporate Learning. The competencies we decided upon aren’t new. They aren’t rocket science. They don’t come with cute little sayings. But we believe in them. And know they will set the stage for people to do the best work of their lives here at D2L all while helping to make learning more engaging, accessible and inspiring.**

Last time we spoke about Win Hearts and Minds. Did you happen to prioritize space and time for Moving Motivators?

This time, we talk Deliver Awesome Outcomes!

All of us, regardless of our role in the D2L “transform the way the world learns” mission, are here to deliver awesome outcomes.

Not only because it’s our job to do so, but because who doesn’t want to be part of delivering something awesome? Right?

Two of the challenges that we often see as it relates to this competency are:

  1. Being able to articulate the strategy and business objectives and,
  2. Clarifying the focus on what outcomes people are expected to deliver

Let’s look at each one separately.

Being able to articulate the strategy and business

At D2L, all employees are doing work that should be directly aligned with the company’s overall strategy. Not only for the obvious reason that a company’s ability to reach its goals will be amplified if everyone is on the same bus, but because employee engagement is increased when employees have clarity into the bigger picture.

Let’s have a humble moment together, shall we?

If put on the spot, how successful would you be at articulating your company’s current strategy and big picture goals? NOT your department’s part of the company’s current strategy and big picture goals. THE COMPANY’S current strategy and big picture goals.

Yeah…..I know…..

So, let’s recap. People want to do amazing work. They really do. And we know that they are far more likely to do amazing work if they are engaged. And we know that they are much more likely to be engaged if they understand their part of the bigger picture. And formal leaders and individual contributors alike can play a huge role in helping people to understand the bigger picture.

How do individual contributors ROCK this competency?

  • They ask their leaders to help them understand their part in the bigger picture.
  • When discussing their work with others, they use language that demonstrates their understanding of how their work connects to the bigger picture.
  • Within reason, they attend sessions, meetings and events that are “outside” of their individual team’s goals in order to understand how others’ work can support their ability to deliver awesome outcomes.

Clarifying the focus on what outcomes people are expected to deliver

Imagine I have just given you 1000 puzzle pieces. And I’ve articulated that our goal is to put the pieces together to form a puzzle and that our strategy is to do it as a big team.

What’s the first thing you’re going to do? Most people describe the process of finding the ‘outside’ or parameter pieces first.

But in a perfect world, we are working backwards from a picture. The picture on the box provides us the outcome or goal that we are trying to achieve. Is it possible to complete the puzzle without the picture? Sure.

But it will most likely:

  • take us longer than is necessary to achieve our goal and,
  • frustrate the puzzle makers in the meantime

So we can only truly Deliver Awesome Outcomes if we are clear on what the outcomes we are specifically working to achieve are.

Seems like a no brainer! So a big part of a formal leader’s role is to help their team be crystal clear on what outcomes people are expected to deliver? Duh….

But we can often miss the boat on this one. Whether it is because we assume that our team knows (potential for improvement may be clearer cascading of information) or because we quite frankly aren’t 100% clear ourselves (potential for improvement may be increasing my understanding of the outcomes that my team is to achieve)….There is room for improvement.

How might someone who is not in a formal people leadership role demonstrate this piece?

I’ve seen this in action with something as simple (but powerful) as a question like “How does this request relate to my objectives/goals for this year?” when being asked to take on a new project or accountability.

This leadership competency can easily be demonstrated by those without direct reports when an employee holds her/his leader accountable by asking for support and clarity in developing her/his yearly objectives and goals.

Soooo….Let’s Work on It!

What can you do to improve your Deliver Awesome Outcomes muscle?

  1. At D2L, we’re lucky. We have a whole Strategy Course that includes thorough descriptions of our company goals, our mission/vision/values and links to everyone’s individual goals for the year. There is also a Q&A video with our Chief Strategy Officer describing our strategy and goals as well. If you are so lucky as to also have these resources available to you at your company, block off an hour and prioritize own learning and understanding. Bonus points if you book a meeting with a colleague and “teach” them what you now know about your company’s strategy!
  2. It’s May (as I’m writing this). Have you had at least one meaningful conversation (between people leader and individual contributor) about your (hopefully) meaningful objectives and key results for this year? If not, please initiate this conversation ASAP. Talk about your/your employees’ objectives and key results and ensure the connection to the bigger picture is clear.

At D2L, we’re on a mission to transform the way the world learns. We know that won’t get there without a bias for action and a drive to deliver awesome outcomes. I’m gonna guess the same applies at your company.

Good luck!

**We have set Deliver Awesome Outcomes as one of the necessary leadership competencies here at D2L. We are humble enough to know that simple saying something doesn’t make it so. We recognize and celebrate those who do it well. We tell the stories of what good looks like. We are embedding the competencies into our onboarding programs. You’ll see them in our job descriptions. We’re developing learning opportunities to allow these capabilities to be strengthened in our formal and informal leaders alike. We continue to work at holding each other accountable by increasing our opportunities to provide each other regular and in the moment feedback. Sometimes we succeed and some days…..Meh….Sometimes this stuff is easy. Sometimes, it requires a bit more bravery. But it’s worth it all of the time.***

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