“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” – John C. Maxwell
As team leader, you cannot do your teams’ work for them. You have your own work to do. Your goal is to develop your team to the point where you can delegate tasks without a lot of oversight. To be a true leader, you must enable others to act responsibly and not encourage bad habits by compensating for them or overlooking them. The goal of a team leader is to empower others to work. To the extent that you can do this is the extent that you will be successful.
Encouraging Growth in Your Team Members
A positive attitude is essential if you are going to encourage your team. No one likes to fail and many take it very personally. While failure should never be rewarded, an understanding attitude and positive outlook can work wonders. A child only learns to walk by falling down many times. The focus is not on the fall, but on getting up. The goal is to walk…then to run.
Meeting with a team member one-on-one is important to positive motivation. Here again, you must use the power of listening. Avoid blame when something goes wrong and focus on the reason for the failure. You may learn someone needs more training, more self-confidence, or more freedom. You may learn someone does not have the tools needed to be successful. You will never know if you don’t ask questions and listen – or worse, if you berate the team member for a failure.
If someone is willfully defiant, then feel free to be stern and resolute. Take disciplinary action if necessary and document the conversation. If you allow someone to be defiant or lazy out of a misplaced concern for his or her feelings, you will be performing a great injustice against the rest of the team who are working hard. In most cases, people really do want to do a good job and they have a sense of pride when they meet a challenge.
Creating Mutual Respect in Your Team
You will never be worthy of your team’s respect if you don’t give respect. Respect should be given to everyone at all levels unless they deliberately do something to lose that respect.
You need to build respect in other ways as well. Be visible to your team members. Show them you are available and interested in knowing everything about what they do. Develop and demonstrate your knowledge of the organization and details of the product, service, or operation. If you are perceived as being knowledgeable and can answer questions, you will not only earn respect, but will motivate others to learn as well.
Earn the Trust of Your Team
Respect inevitably leads to trust. Do what you say and say what you mean. Under-promise and over-deliver can help manage expectations. If you are given a task you know will take you one hour, say you “should” have it done in two hours. You never know when you’ll get a phone call that eats into your time or when an emergency may pop up. If you get done in less than two hours, you will be perceived as a hero. If not, you can call and apologize that it will be “a little later” without much trouble because you said you should have it done. You didn’t promise that you would have it done. If people feel they can rely on you, they will trust you.
Let your team know that you are not asking them to do anything you would not do yourself, or have done in the past. Work hard and be seen working hard. If you come in early and see others who are there early as well, stop by and simply mention that fact positively. A simple word of recognition will go a long way to earning respect. Without respect, you will never have loyalty and without loyalty, you cannot trust your team. Without mutual trust and respect, your team cannot accomplish great things.