These key principles and strategies can lead those in power to really effective leadership and to really effective results.
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5 min read
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Executives in all walks of life, especially in government, have a number of roles to play for people. They must ensure national and economic security, maintain order and protect basic human rights. To do all of these things well, those who lead need to connect with those who rule them and find out what people want in terms of politics and support. This is not an easy task considering that the government regulates hundreds of millions of people from different backgrounds and experiences. However, some key principles and strategies can lead those in power to really effective leadership and to really effective results.
1. Create feedback channels for participatory, data-driven policy making
As the old saying goes, assumption makes you and me a you-know-what. Therefore, any government action must be based on more than gut feeling and prejudice. Government at every level needs real data to guide its activities. This means that they will have to devote resources to enabling general social listening and receiving consistent feedback.
Traditional polls, interviews, town halls, or other strategies conducted in an omnichannel fashion can provide constituent insights on key policy issues. And what works best can depend on several factors, such as: B. demographics. Listening to social media is especially important today.
Social media listening doesn't just mean switching to occasional communication on websites like Twitter. Rather, it is about continuously monitoring the discourse that is always taking place online on various topics in a broad macro view. Once you have good insight, the next step is to take the feedback and actually apply it in light of ongoing policy changes and developments.
As a good example of how effective this can be, consider the Covid-19 crisis. In many countries like Italy, governments have been monitoring social media accounts to find out if and when to lock and reopen them, and to monitor how well people are adhering to the quarantine.
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2. Become a platform for delivering seamless services
Just as technology can be an important part of a government's feedback infrastructure, it can also enable people to more easily participate in government and use government services. For example, electronic systems can help people submit claims, registrations, or even vote from the comfort of their own home, removing hurdles such as lack of transportation. The digital divide is a real problem, however, and many communities still lack the resources to ensure last mile connectivity. Addressing this loophole is therefore fundamental to the government's ability to interact with people and provide for them in a fair manner. Once this infrastructure is fairer and access guaranteed, the focus can shift to digitizing current services to use government as a platform.
However, it is not enough that the options for digital services are there. They also need to be flexible and transparent enough to meet the diverse needs of the community and to build trust, responsiveness and accountability. For example, governments need to consider whether someone with visual or other impairments can use the site, or whether people can download documents in one file format or another. In a transparent model, people not only have clear information so that they can understand and use it, but they can also file and review complaints that are not easy to bury in digital form. As a key part of the larger feedback infrastructure, these simple sections where people can share their concerns can ensure that the government stays in tune with people's wants.
3. Make data publicly available
Government members in a democracy are similar to employees – they are usually “hired” (elected) by the people. And like any good boss, together, people want to know what their employees are doing with their time and pay them to contribute to real results.
In this context, a freer flow of data means that government and the population can work together more efficiently and collaboratively and can exchange and adapt ideas quickly. It also means people are more aware of government initiatives, which means people are in a better position to push back or offer support if needed. You can ensure that the government spends in a way that maximizes social impact. At the same time, the free flow of data, including performance information, can reduce the social disparities that arise solely from people not having access to data. This creates more equity and encourages people from different backgrounds and circumstances to get involved in policy development and change. This is important in removing government blind spots and making sure the government is serving everyone's needs as best it can.
Related: How data is changing society and companies
Most governments will oversee people who have very different circumstances. However, by taking these three steps, they will be able to better hear the voices of their fellow human beings and build a trust-based relationship that benefits society as a whole.