Tag: Leadership

Empowering Yourself as Team Leader

Empowering Yourself as Team Leader

Being a team leader leaves plenty of room for empowering yourself. Often times, you are expected to act independently, make decisions and resolve issues with little or no guidance. In this blog post, you are going to learn how to empower yourself through assertiveness, consensus building, conflict resolution and decision making.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activity

Being Assertive

Being assertive does not mean you have to be pushy. Dictionary.com defines assertive as being confidently aggressive or self-assured or positive. When you are a team leader, you will encounter times when you have to be assertive. This means pushing back, and being clear on what you need to get done.

Here are some five tips we call the Five B’s to becoming or demonstrating more assertiveness in your team:

  1. Be involved in the conversation. When you make a decision or state an opinion, include yourself in the statement. For example you might say, “I disagree or I have a different point of view.” You might say, “I like the idea or I think this is great.” In any case, place yourself in the conversation.
  2. Be brief. Being to the point demonstrates confidence in what you are saying. When you say too much, team members will tend to lose focus and question you. This is true also for written communication like email. Giving too many details weakens your message. Avoid this if you can.
  3. Be positive with your body language. Negative body language sends a message of low confidence. Make good eye contact and be willing to engage in dialogue even if it is a difficult discussion.
  4. Be direct. If you beat around the bush or try to find other ways to say things, this will affect your assertiveness. Do not be afraid of being direct. Be tactful in how you say it, but mumbling and grasping for the right words constantly shows lack of confidence.
  5. Be calm in conflict. Don’t lose your cool. Conflict is a normal part of our work life. Knowing this will help you react to it with calmness. If we are easily rocked by conflict you will lose your assertiveness because you will want to avoid conflict at all costs.

Being assertive takes time to develop. Practice a little at a time. You want to avoid becoming a Sherman tank and run everyone over. This is the extreme, and it could affect your ability to gain consensus.

Resolving Conflict

Conflict is normal. Most of us are passionate about our beliefs. We want so much to achieve our goals that sometimes we run right into conflict over it. The first thing in conflict resolution is to know that it will happen. Avoiding conflict is also unhealthy as it leads to harboring emotion and passive aggressiveness. It is better to engage in conflict and then move on to resolving the issue or gaining consensus.

There are two stages to conflict resolution. First, we need to contain the damage. Second, we have to move to a resolution. The biggest enemy to conflict resolution is time. Do not let time pass. Give some time to let the emotions settle, and then engage that team member as soon as you can. Call them, send an email, or walk over to their area. Be the bigger of the two. Make the first move. Say to yourself, “That if I do not move, no one will.” When you do find them, ask them if now is a good time to talk is. They may still be upset. If they are upset, set a time later that day to meet with them. If they are okay with you being there, then follow the steps to mending the relationship.

·         Conflict identified: state the issue or activities that made the encounter become heated. You might say, “I think we may have lost track of the purpose of the meeting” or “I believe we have strong viewpoints on the subject and it showed.”

·         Address the other party’s concern: you might say, “I know you are not in favor of (insert issue). I respect that.”

·         Listen to them: use your best listening skills and let them vent about the situation.

·         Mend relationships: tell the team member that your relationship with them is important and you value them. Apologize or at least leave on good terms.

During this time, you may want to avoid trying to resolve the issue that caused the conflict right away. Leave that for a different time. For now, your goal is to patch the relationship. Later, you will try to build consensus in order to move forward beyond the conflict.

If you experience a group conflict, perform the same technique. Get them back in the meeting room and have them vent and get things out respectfully. Take notes and adjourn the meeting for a later time to build consensus at the group leave.

Building Consensus

Dictionary.com defines consensus as a general agreement or concord. Sometimes we view consensus as total agreement. This is not the goal of building consensus. It takes negotiating and problem solving. You may run into problems with your peers or project team in getting everyone on board with an idea or you may be resolving a conflict. In any case, building a consensus is a skill worth developing.

Below are PEACE techniques for building consensus:

·         Problem defined: it is difficult to build consensus when you do not know what you are trying to overcome or achieve. Define the problem as a goal to achieve. Have the team give you the goals. Encourage those who are not participating to do so. Remember, you have to get a general agreement form all.

·         Everyone vents thoughts respectfully: you will find that team members will want to say things against opposing ideas. Encourage them to frame their venting positively and allow them to do it.

·         Alternative solutions explored: have the team come up with various solutions to the problem. Then reduce the alternatives to a short list.

·         Choice is made: before this is done, make sure everyone agrees that the alternative selected is the best for the team and they will support it. Make the choice.

·         Everyone agrees to support the solution: get everyone’s approval verbal and publicly in the meeting room before you adjourn.

Building consensus takes time and could happen over several team meetings, depending on the complexity of the issue. Nonetheless, bringing the team back to the table to reach a consensus should never stop.

If your role in the team is too involved, you may want to get someone who is not a part of the team to help facilitate the consensus building. Avoid getting the vice president or some other high ranking employee. This will shut the process down. They have to feel comfortable venting without any restrictions.

Making Decisions

Many times we are faced with situations that require us to choose among other options. Most of us want to make the right decision. However, we do not want to spend time doing so. Paralysis by analysis could become a problem, making us inefficient and hesitant in making a decision.

Related: Decision Making Outcome Based Team Building Activities

As team leader, you may face times when you have to make a decision on behalf of your manager. Below are some basic elements to making a decision:

·         You must have two or more options exist in order to make a decision

·         Brainstorming all possible alternatives for each option

·         Weighing the pros and cons of each alternative and its outcome

·         Narrow down the alternatives to a short list

·         Evaluate the remaining alternatives for risk, stakeholder impact and your comfort level

·         Decide on an alternative

·         Monitor outcome of selected alternative

·         Always have a backup plan ready in case first alternative does not work out.

If you are looking to make the perfect decision every time, you may be setting yourself up for a frustrating time. We cannot always predict everything that is going to take place once a decision is made. Careful planning and weighing of options is the best method to reaching a solution. Gut instinct could lead you into trouble. Do not make those kinds of decisions for your manager. It could cost them dearly. Finally, always document your process. This way you have something to refer to when asked why you chose that option.

How to Implement Delegation in Your Team

How to Implement Delegation in Your Team

In this blog we look at the actual skills involved in delegating to your team. At first sight, delegation can feel like more hassle than it’s worth. However, by delegating effectively to your team, you can hugely expand the amount of work that you can deliver. When you arrange the workload so that you are working on the tasks that have the highest priority, and other team members are working on meaningful and challenging assignments, you have a recipe for success.

Deciding to Delegate

Delegation allows you to make the best use of your time and skills, and it helps other people in the team grow and develop to reach their full potential in the organization. Delegation is a win-win situation for all involved, but only when done correctly.

Keep these criteria in mind when deciding if a task should be delegated:

  • The task should provide an opportunity for growth of another person’s skill.
  • Weigh the effort to properly train another person against how often the task will reoccur.
  • Delegating certain critical tasks may jeopardize the success of your project.
  • Management tasks, such as performance reviews, and tasks specifically assigned to you should not be delegated.

To Whom Should You Delegate?

Once you have decided to delegate a task, think about the possible candidates for accepting the task. Things to think about include:

  • What experience, knowledge, skills, and attitude does the team member already have?
  • What training or assistance might they need?
  • Do you have the time and resources to provide any training needed?
  • What is the team member’s preferred work style? Do they do well on their own or do they require more support and motivation? How independent are they?
  • What does he or she want from his or her job?
  • What are his or her long-term goals and interest, and how do these align with the work proposed?
  • What is the current workload of this team member? Does the person have time to take on more work?
  • Will you delegating this task require reshuffling of other responsibilities and workloads?

When you first start to delegate to someone, you may notice that he or she takes longer than you do to complete tasks. This is because you are an expert in the field and the person that you have delegated to is still learning. Be patient: if you have chosen the right team member to delegate to, and you are delegating correctly, you will find that he or she quickly becomes competent and reliable. Also, try to delegate to the lowest possible organizational level. The people who are closest to the work are best suited for the task because they have the most intimate knowledge of the detail of everyday work. This also increases workplace efficiency, and helps to develop the team.

Providing Instructions

Now, once you have worked through the above steps, make sure you brief your team member appropriately. Take time to explain why they were chosen for the job, what’s expected from them during the project, the goals you have for the project, all timelines and deadlines, and the resources on which they can draw. Let them know how much supervision they can expect from you.

Work together to develop a schedule for progress updates, milestones, and other key project points. After the meeting, ask the team member to give you a summary of the important points to make sure they have understood the task. If it is a large task, you may want to create a miniature project summary. This can be a valuable tool for the delegate when they are working on the task.

You will want to make sure that the team member knows that you want to know if any problems occur, and that you are available for questions or guidance needed as the work progresses.

Monitoring the Results

We all know that as team leaders, we shouldn’t micro-manage. However, this doesn’t mean we must abdicate control altogether. In delegating effectively, we have to find the difficult balance between giving enough space for team members to use their abilities, while still monitoring and supporting closely enough to ensure that the job is done correctly and effectively. One way to encourage growth is to ask for recommended solutions when delegates come to you with a problem, and then help them explore those solutions and reach a decision.

It is important that you hold team members to the original schedule that you agreed upon. Congratulate them on milestones accomplished and deadlines met. If deadlines are missed, explore why. These investigations often provide valuable lessons learned for both you and the team member. Don’t be afraid to ask for progress reports. Remember, your job is to help the team member stay on track, and to remove any barriers that are impeding their task.

When delegated work is delivered back to you, make sure to set aside enough time to review it thoroughly. If possible, only accept good quality, fully complete work. If you accept work that you are not satisfied with, your team member does not learn to do the job properly.

Of course, when good work is returned to you, make sure to both recognize and reward the effort. As a team leader, you should get in the practice of complimenting members of your team every time you are impressed by what they have done. This effort on your part will go a long way toward building team members’ self-confidence and efficiency now and in the future.

Troubleshooting Delegation

Although delegation seems simple enough on paper, its application in real life can be much more difficult! Let’s look at some of the most common delegation issues and how to solve them.

The delegate keeps coming to you with questions.

  • Although the team member should feel comfortable coming to you and asking questions, there can come a point where they are relying on you too much.
  • One way to reduce the need for your time, and to increase their independence, is to show them where they can find the answers.
  • Another approach is to ask them for recommendations when they have a problem. Then, help them explore the possibilities and choose a solution.
  • It may also be possible that you have assigned a complicated task to someone who is not prepared for it. If this becomes the case, the best approach is usually to ask a senior person to assist the junior person with the task. (Once again, this helps develop team members and increases their independence.) Try to avoid re-assigning a task unless it’s absolutely necessary.

You hear that another team member is performing the delegated task.

  • It’s always best to get your information from the source. Talk to the team member and find out who they are using as a resource and how much of that person’s time is being used. If you feel that too much of that person’s time is being used, suggest alternate resources.
  • You may also want to check with the person involved in the task to ensure they don’t feel overwhelmed or taken advantage of.
  • In general, when you hear these kinds of rumors, keep a close eye on the situation, and react appropriately.

The end result is not what you expected.

  • First, take a moment to evaluate the problem. Is it done incorrectly, or just not done the way you would have done it? (There really is a difference between the two!)
  • Explain to the team member what is done incorrectly and how it can be resolved. Take time to find out why the delegate did the task the way they did. Were the original instructions incorrect? Were they unable to find help when they needed it? Did someone else tell them to do it differently? Take careful notes during this discussion. This can provide valuable lessons for you and the delegate.

Three Levels of Delegation for Team Leaders

Three Levels of Delegation for Team Leaders

Many team leaders feel that by giving tasks to other members of the team, they are giving their power away. This simply isn’t true! Delegation is one of the most valuable skills you will ever learn. By delegating the tasks that you don’t really need to do, you free up time for those high-reward projects.

Even better, delegating doesn’t have to be all or nothing. In this blog, we will learn about the degrees of delegation and when to use each of them.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Level One: Complete Supervision

The first level of delegation is complete supervision. This gives the team members the least independence, but it gives you the most control.

Although this level of delegation should not be used often, it can be used in situations such as these:

  • The task is dangerous and the team member is not familiar with it.
  • The task has important organizational, financial, or legal implications. For example, if a team member is preparing a year-end report for the first time, you will probably want to supervise the process and carefully examine the results.

Level Two: Partial Supervision

The second level of delegation is a good balance between team member freedom and team leader supervision. With this level, the team member does the task on their own, but the team leader monitors the work, evaluates progress, and keeps a close eye on how things are moving along.

This is the most commonly used level of delegation, and is the one that you will use for most tasks. However, to maximize your delegating potential, try to encourage team members to grow and develop by adding more levels of complexity as they become more comfortable with the task.

For example, let’s say that you have been delegating the weekly team status report to the team’s most senior person. After the report is submitted, you type the report using your organization’s template. Once the delegate has become comfortable with creating the report, the next step could be to use the template themselves, cutting out one step for you, and moving them further along the journey to independence.

Level Three: Complete Independence

The last level of delegation is the one that we should hope to move towards for most tasks. Here, the team member does the task completely on their own.

However, spot-checks and progress updates are important. Continuing with the example of the progress report, let’s say that the final step is to post the report on the departmental Intranet. The delegate may want to CC you when they post the report so that you can read it, and so that you know it has been submitted.

Think very carefully when choosing a level of delegation. Too low, and the team member may feel distrusted and smothered. Too high, and you may find a disaster on your hands.

Making an Impact as Team Leader

Making an Impact as Team Leader

Some people stand out, while others fade into the background. But if you want to make the most of interpersonal relationships, you have to be able to leave a lingering positive impression on your team.

Creating a Powerful First Impression

You’ve probably heard this saying before: you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

In today’s fast-paced world, you have to maximize the time and opportunities you get with the people that you meet. The following are some tips in creating a powerful first impression:

Dress to impress. Beauty is within, but this doesn’t mean that people don’t make conclusions about you based on your appearance. If you want to create a great first impression make sure that you look your best. Whenever you’re presenting yourself to other people, be clean, well-groomed and dressed in clothes that fit and within the prescribed dress code

Be positive. Nobody likes to talk to cranky, irritable, and pessimistic people! Instead, people are drawn to those who smile a lot and radiate a pleasant disposition. If you want to be remembered, make them feel welcomed and appreciated. A positive experience is as easy to remember as a negative one!

Communicate your confidence. Powerful first impressions are those that show you are self-assured, competent, and purposive. Always establish eye contact with the people you are talking to. Shake hands firmly. Speak in a deliberate and purposive way.

Be yourself! Meeting people for the first time can be extremely anxiety-provoking, but do your best to act naturally. People are more responsive to those who don’t come across as if they’re putting on a front or are very controlled. Let your personality engage the other person.

Go for the extra mile. Do more than the usual that can make you stand out from the rest.

Assessing a Situation

All interpersonal skills involve sensitivity to what is going on around, especially what is happening with the people you are interacting with. After all, context variables, such as timing and location, can change the meaning of a communication. You want to make sure that you are not just saying the right thing, but you are saying the right thing at the right moment.

If you want to make an impact, you have to factor in the situation.

The following are some tips in assessing the situation:

Listen, not just to what is being said, but also to what is NOT being said.  An excellent interpersonal skill to master is a keen observing eye. You have to be able to note the body language of the people around you in order for you to be able to respond appropriately. For example, there is body language that says “go on, we like what you’re saying.” There is also body language that says “I don’t want to hear that right now.”

Identify needs. A second way to assess the situation is to ask yourself: what does this social occasion need right now? A newly formed team, for example, likely has members who still don’t know one another. The need then is for someone to help break the ice. A team that is tired from a long working day probably needs an opportunity to relax and unwind. Knowing these needs can help you respond to them more appropriately.

Practice etiquette. Etiquette may seem like a useless bunch of rules to some people but they serve a purpose: they tell you what are generally considered as acceptable and unacceptable for certain situations. It helps then that you know basic etiquette rules so that you don’t make a faux pas that can ruin the great first impression that you made.

Being Zealous without Being Offensive

Enthusiasm, diligence, and persistence are all great virtues to have, especially if you’re in the business of creating social networks. However, you have to be careful that your persevering doesn’t cross the line to pestering — or worse harassing the person.

The following are some tips in being zealous without being offensive:

Focus on what is important to the other person. Being “other-centered” is the best way to monitor your own eagerness to make contact with other people. Before you do something, make that habit of asking yourself: does this action address the need of the other person, or is it merely addressing my need?

Respect boundaries. Everyone has personal boundaries, and it would do us well to respect them. Not seeing clients without an appointment is an example of a boundary. The same goes for not accepting calls during the weekend or past regular office hours. Work within these boundaries, and you’ll be able to communicate your courtesy. And if you don’t know what a person’s boundaries are, you have nothing to lose in asking!

Make requests, not demands. As mentioned previously, we can always do our best to persuade and influence other people, but we can’t force them to do what they don’t want to do. So always courteously ask for permission, and verify agreement. And if they say no —- then accept the no as an answer, unless you have something new to offer.

Note non-verbal behavior. Similar to the tip in the previous section, always be guided by the other person’s non-verbal response to you. If you find that they are already showing irritation — example they speak in a gruff, annoyed tone when talking to you —- then perhaps it’s time to back off. But if they appear open to you — they look at you with interest while you speak — then it’s advisable to go on.

 

10 Effective Steps to Build Your Team

10 Effective Steps to Build Your Team

The following are ten effective steps that you can focus on daily to build your team and get the best out of each team member.

Place a High Value on Your Team Members
If you want to get the best out of your team, you have to value each member of your team. If you focus on the individuals in your team, you will win your team over and establish the team vision. Make sure you do not take all the credit for the successes of the team, but always give the credit to the team.

Commit Resources to Developing Your Team Members
To facilitate growth in your team you need resources. People are only your most appreciable asset if you develop them. Whatever the cost will be for developing people will not be as high as the cost for not developing people.

Place High Value on Leadership
All good leaders recognize the importance of leadership and place a high value on it. If you value leadership, leaders will emerge to add value to your team.

Look for Potential Leaders
Leaders who value leadership are continually on the lookout for potential leaders. The following are some qualities in a team member that could make them a potential leader.

  • They make things happen.
  • They See opportunities.
  • They influence opinions and actions of others.
  • They add value to the team.
  • They draw winners to themselves.
  • They provide ideas.
  • They have an uncommonly great attitude.
  • They live up to their commitments.
  • They show fierce loyalty to the team and team leader.

Know and Respect Your Team
As you build your team, you will get to know the team members better as individuals. The following are some points to keep in mind in the development process:

  • People want to see results.
  • People want to be effective.
  • People want to be in the picture.
  • People want to be appreciated.
  • People want to be part of the celebration.

Try to tailor the development process for each individual team member as much as possible.

Provide Potential Leaders With Leadership Experience
Potential leaders cannot learn leadership without actually leading. There needs to be a shift from merely delegating tasks to delegating leadership functions with authority and accountability.

Reward Initiative
Initiative is an important part of leadership. Leaders are proactive and they make things happen. Reward initiative shown in your team.

Provide a Safe Environment Where Team Members Ask Questions, Share Ideas and Take Risks
Secure leaders do not take it personally when they are asked questions by their team members. They are not threatened when they share ideas. Give your team members room to succeed or fail.

Grow With Your Team
When a team sees their leader growing it changes the culture in the team and removes the barriers between the leader and the rest of the team. It also makes the leader more accessible and sends a clear message that growth is a priority.

Draw People With Higher Potential Into Your Inner Circle
The best way to develop high caliber leaders is to have them mentored by high caliber leaders. Handpick people with the best potential and invite them into your inner circle and mentor them. Give your best to your best people.

Delegating For Team Leaders Made Easy

Delegating For Team Leaders Made Easy

“You can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility.” –  Byron Dorgan

If you work on your own, there’s only so much you can get done, no matter how hard you work. One of the most common ways of overcoming this limitation is to learn how to delegate your work to your team members. If you do this well, you can quickly build a strong and successful team of people.

At first sight, delegation can feel like more hassle than it’s worth. However, by delegating effectively, you can hugely expand the amount of work that you can deliver. When you arrange the workload so that you are working on the tasks that have the highest priority for you, and other people are working on meaningful and challenging assignments, you have a recipe for success.

Remember, to delegate effectively, choose the right tasks to delegate, identify the right team members to delegate to, and delegate in the right way.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

When to Delegate

Delegation allows you to make the best use of your time and skills, and it helps other people in the team grow and develop to reach their full potential in the organization. Delegation is a win-win situation for all involved, but only when done correctly. Keep these criteria in mind when deciding if a task should be delegated to your team:

  • The task should provide an opportunity for growth of the team member’s skills.
  • Weigh the effort to properly train the team member against how often the task will reoccur.
  • Delegating certain critical tasks may jeopardize the success of the team’s project.
  • Management tasks, such as performance reviews, and tasks specifically assigned to you should not be delegated.

Related: Time Management Outcome Based Team Building Activities

To Whom Should You Delegate?

Once you have decided to delegate a task to a team member, think about the possible candidates for accepting the task. Things to think about include:

  • What experience, knowledge, skills, and attitude does the team member already have?
  • What training or assistance might they need?
  • Do you have the time and resources to provide any training needed?
  • What is the team member’s preferred work style? Do they do well on their own or do they require more support and motivation? How independent are they?
  • What does he or she want from his or her job?
  • What are his or her long-term goals and interest, and how do these align with the work proposed?
  • What is the current workload of this this team member? Does the person have time to take on more work?
  • Will you delegating this task require reshuffling of other responsibilities and workloads?

When you first start to delegate to someone, you may notice that he or she takes longer than you do to complete tasks. This is because you are an expert in the field and the person you have delegated to is still learning. Be patient: if you have chosen the right person to delegate to, and you are delegating correctly, you will find that he or she quickly becomes competent and reliable. Also, try to delegate to the lowest possible organizational level. The people who are closest to the work are best suited for the task because they have the most intimate knowledge of the detail of everyday work. This also increases workplace efficiency, and helps to develop people.

How Should You Delegate?

Delegation doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There are several different levels of delegation, each with different levels of delegate independence and supervision.

  • Delegate initiates action, and then reports periodically.
  • Delegate acts, and the reports immediately.
  • Delegate recommends what should be done, and then acts.
  • Delegate asks what to do.
  • Delegate waits to be told what to do.

People often move throughout these spheres during the delegation process. Make sure you match the amount of responsibility with the amount of authority. Understand that you can delegate some responsibility, but you can’t delegate away ultimate accountability.

Keeping Control

Now, once you have worked through the above steps, make sure you brief your team member appropriately. Take time to explain why they were chosen for the job, what’s expected from them during the project, the goals you have for the project, all timelines and deadlines, and the resources on which they can draw. Work together to develop a schedule for progress updates, milestones, and other key project points.

You will want to make sure that the team member knows that you want to know if any problems occur, and that you are available for any questions or guidance needed as the work progresses.

We all know that as team leaders, we shouldn’t micro-manage. However, this doesn’t mean we must abdicate control altogether. In delegating effectively, we have to find the difficult balance between giving enough space for people to use their abilities, while still monitoring and supporting closely enough to ensure that the job is done correctly and effectively. One way to encourage growth is to ask for recommended solutions when team members come to you with a problem, and then help them explore those solutions and reach a decision.

The Importance of Full Acceptance

Set aside enough time to thoroughly review any delegated work delivered to you. If possible, only accept good quality, fully complete work. If you accept work that you are not satisfied with, your team member does not learn to do the job properly. Worse than this, you accept a new project that you will probably need to complete yourself. Not only does this overload you, it means that you don’t have the time to do your own job properly.

Of course, when good work is returned to you, make sure to both recognize and reward the effort. As a team leader, you should get in the practice of complimenting members of your team every time you are impressed by what they have done. This effort on your part will go a long way toward building the team members’ self-confidence and efficiency now and in the future.

Motivating Your Team to Action

Motivating Your Team to Action

“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.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

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.

Challenging the Process as a Team Leader

warren-benis-quote

“The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.” – Warren Bennis

Far too often, we cling to what is familiar, even if what we cling to is known to be inadequate. Most large groups are governed by the law of inertia: if it takes effort to change something, nothing will change. As a team leader, you must search out opportunities to change, grow, innovate, and improve.

There is no reward without risk however, so you must be willing to experiment, take risks, and learn from any mistakes. Ask questions, even if you fear the answers. Start with the question, “Why?” Why are things the way they are? Why do we do things the way we do?

Think Outside the Box

A paradigm is an established model or structure. Sometimes they work quite well, but often they are inadequate or even counterproductive. Sometimes it is necessary to “think outside the box” and break the paradigm. Don’t be afraid to ask the question “Why?” Ask questions of your team members, employees, customers, former leaders. Ideas and answers can be found in the least likely places. Often the lowest ranking persons in an organization can tell you exactly what is wrong because they see it daily from their vantage points.

Developing Your Inner Innovator

Innovation is more than just an improvement on a process or procedure; it is a total redirection or restructuring based upon stated goals and research. While it can be helpful to adapt an outdated procedure or task to today’s standards, often the procedure itself is the problem, not the manner in which it is implemented. Innovators reverse engineer policies and procedures based on the new vision and team goals, working from the target backwards, rather than from the status quo looking forward.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

To be sure, not all innovative strategies will be feasible or cost effective. Requiring an entirely new computerized network and infrastructure, for example, may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and produce little improved efficiency over the old one. However, if you don’t start thinking “outside the box,” you will miss many valuable solutions that can and will work.

Note that changes should never be made simply for the sake of change. Change can be exciting, but it can also be unnerving and difficult for the team members. Constant change causes frustration. Moreover, if you seem to change too many things too often, you will lose respect, as your team members may feel you don’t really know what you are doing, so be sure to plan your innovations carefully. There should be solid evidence that a new way of doing things is likely to work before you invest money and everyone’s time.

Keep focused on the team  goals and be willing to break the rules if they need to be broken. Just make sure they really need to be broken and you don’t break something that needs to keep working! With proper research and planning, you can dare to be bold!

Seeing Room for Improvement

A strong team vision does not lend itself to mediocrity. A drive to excellence always seeks improvement. If you accept 95% efficiency as a goal, the efficiency will inevitably slip to 90%. If that’s considered “good enough,” it will become hard to keep it above 85% and so on.

Team goals must not be unrealistic or unattainable, or the followers will simply give up trying altogether, becoming dispirited and demoralized in the process. If 95% of people fail to meet a standard, then that standard is likely too high and must be changed. On the other hand, the bar must not be set so low that little or no effort is required to meet it.

Based on your team’s  vision, set high goals that are attainable but with some degree of difficulty, and reward those team members who meet the goals. If a large number of the team  is meeting the goal, raise the target. If only a very few are meeting it, lower it somewhat.

Investigate any potential bottlenecks that might be stifling progress and resolve them. Talk to your team members about possible solutions. The people who actually do the work are far more likely to be able to tell you why they are having difficulty accomplishing a task than their supervisors.

Lobbying for Change

To lobby for change, you need to influence people and excite them to your vision. You may need to persuade a reluctant boss or fight a corporate culture that doesn’t understand what you are trying to do. In that case, you need to demonstrate why your requested change needs to occur.

Do your research, and always enter a meeting by being prepared. Study the situation and present all of your findings in a short report, preferably with simple charts or graphs. Give them something they can easily understand. Have the details ready in case you are asked a question, but don’t overload people with facts. Show as clearly as possible how your plan will effect positive change.

If you are lobbying your own team members, the same is true. You may want to revolutionize a cultural change. Perhaps you are a shop manager and people are unmotivated. You may need to bring about change slowly, rather than with one big dramatic gesture. On the other hand, you may need to shake things up in a big way. Whatever the situation, you can successfully lobby for change if you attack the problem with a plan, sound reasoning, and infectious enthusiasm!

 

The Importance of Vision for Team Leaders

The Importance of Vision for Team Leaders

Vision is essential to the success of all team leaders. The vision paints the target for the team and leads the leader. It fuels the fire of the leader’s passion and draws the leader forward. Leaders without vision cannot go anywhere.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Vision Starts Within The Leader

Vision is not something you can buy or borrow. Vision has to come from within. If you lack vision in your leadership, look within and draw on you natural gifts and desires. If you still do not sense a vision of your own, look to partner with a leader whose vision resonates with you.

Vision Draws On Your Past

Vision is not something that just magically appears out of nothing. Vision grows from the past of the leader and the history of those people that surround them. You are likely to find that all successful leaders have key events in their past that were instrumental in the creation of their vision.

Vision Meets The Needs Of Others

True vision will go beyond what one individual can accomplish. A big vision does more than just include others, it adds value to them. A vision that does not serve others is likely too small.

Vision Helps You Gather Resources

Vision acts like a magnet to attract resources. Your vision will attract, challenge and unite people. It will also rally finances and other resources that the vision requires. The greater the vision, the more winners it has the potential of attracting. The more challenging the vision, the harder the team will fight to achieve this.

The Voices of Vision

The Inner Voice. Vision should always start from within. What stirs your heart, what do you dream about? You will not be able to accomplish a vision that does not come from a deep desire within yourself. It needs to be based on who you are and what you believe.

The Unhappy Voice. Experiencing or noticing what does not work, is often the inspiration for great ideas. A discontentment with how things are currently can be excellent breeding ground for birthing a vision.

The Successful Voice. Great things are never accomplished alone. A big vision needs a big team to accomplish it. To grow as a leader, you need advice from someone ahead of you in the leadership journey. You need a mentor if you intend to lead others to greatness.

How Team Leaders Can Improve Their Vision

Measure Yourself. If you have previously written down a vision for yourself, measure how well you are carrying it out. Speak to key people close to you and ask them what they think is your vision. If they can articulate it, then it is likely that you are living out your vision.

Write Down Your Vision. If you have only previously thought about your vision but never wrote it down, take the time to write it down today. Writing helps to clarify your thinking. After writing it down, evaluate your vision and decide if it is worthy of your life’s best, and then pursue it with all you got.

 

Resource: The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader

team-building-activity-quote

The Importance of Responsibility for Team Leaders

The Importance of Responsibility for Team Leaders

These days it seems people focus more on their rights than their responsibilities. Effective team leaders never embrace a victim mentality. They recognize that who and where they are in life remain their responsibility. They face whatever life throws at them, and they give it their best. Remember that failure to hit the bull’s eye is never the fault of the target. To hit the target you need to improve your aim, and you can only improve your aim by improving yourself.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Characteristics of Team Leaders Who Embrace Responsibility

They get the Job done. As a team leader, you cannot do the minimum but yet expect to reach your maximum potential. If you are an employee, one way you can maintain a get-it-done attitude is by thinking of yourself as self-employed. This approach will help you achieve more and build credibility with your team.

They are willing to go the extra mile. Responsible team leaders never protest that something is not their job. They are ready to do whatever it takes to complete the work needed by their organization. If you want to succeed as a leader, you have to be willing to put the needs of the organization above your agenda.

They are driven by excellence. Excellence is always a great motivator. Responsible leaders desire excellence and work hard to achieve it. Make high quality your goal and responsibility will follow naturally.

They produce regardless of the situation. The ultimate quality of a responsible team leader is the ability to finish. A leader who takes responsibility, finish and follows through to the final details is a leader that will be a success more often than not. They are leaders to whom you can entrust an assignment knowing it will be efficiently and conscientiously completed.

How Team Leaders Can Improve Their Responsibility

Keep hanging in there. An inability to deliver in difficult circumstances could be due to a persistence problem. Next time when you find yourself in a situation where it looks like you are going to fail, stop and figure out a way to succeed. Think outside the lines. Creativity can often help to bring responsibility to life.

Set higher standards. You may have difficulty achieving merely because you have lowered your standards. Make changes to set higher standards. Reset the bar of excellence for yourself.

Find better tools. If you are still not achieving the success the way you want to, you may need to better equip yourself. Improve your skills by taking classes, reading books and listening to DVD’s. Find a mentor, do whatever it takes to become better at what you do.

Resource: The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader

team-building-activity-quote