Tag: Leadership

The Ultimate Guide to Team Leadership

The Ultimate Guide to Team Leadership

VIEW OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES

Welcome to our ultimate guide to team leadership. They say that leaders are born, not made. While it is true that some people are born leaders, some leaders are born in the midst of adversity. Often, simple people who have never had a leadership role will stand up and take the lead when a situation they care about requires it. A simple example is parenting. When a child arrives, many parents discover leadership abilities they never knew existed in order to guide and protect their offspring. There are countless war stories of simple GI’s and sailors who rose to a challenge on their own in the heat of battle.

Clearly, leadership potential exists within each of us. That potential can be triggered by outside events, or it can be learned by exploring ourselves from within. This guide takes the latter approach. Once you learn the techniques of true leadership, you will be able to build the confidence it takes to take the lead. The more experience you have acting as a genuine leader, the easier it will be for you. It is never easy to take the lead, as you will need to make decisions and face challenges, but it can become natural and rewarding.

Leadership is not telling others what to do. Leadership is inspiring others to do what needs to be done. Many people around the world who are in leadership positions are not leaders. Dictators call themselves leaders but they are not – they are tyrants. There have been many presidents of the United States, but few were real leaders. Genuine leaders take a stand and motivate others to join them in a noble purpose. One such leader was Abraham Lincoln, who ended slavery in the United States. Another was John F. Kennedy, who inspired a nation to go to the moon within a decade, and it did. General Patton had a completely different but no less effective leadership style. What is it that makes a leader, and what separates the good from the great? This guide will explore different leadership theories and examine what makes a great leader.

Influence is subtle, yet incredibly powerful. You can order someone to do a task, but you cannot order them to do their best. It simply does not work and usually has the opposite effect. You can influence people to do their best by providing a strong, motivating example in addition to positive reinforcement. Leadership addresses tasks, while influence addresses attitudes and awareness. Influence is the soul of leadership.

We will be covering the following topics in our ultimate guide to team leadership (click on a heading to go directly to that section):

The Evolution of Team Leadership

The Evolution of Team Leadership

As long as there have been leaders, there have been those who tried to determine how and why they were successful. Leadership itself has not evolved, but our understanding of it has. It is important to understand why very different leadership styles can be effective, why the same leadership techniques will not work in every situation, and which leadership style fits your personality best. Everyone has leadership potential within them, but understanding these concepts will help you maximize your leadership ability.

Defining Team Leadership

Simply speaking, “leadership” is defined as “the ability to lead.” Unfortunately, this is not very helpful. A better definition comes from the BNET online Business Dictionary: “The capacity to establish direction and to influence and align others toward a common goal, motivating and committing them to action and making them responsible for their performance.” Although this is more descriptive, it is not substantial. It does not tell us what leadership actually is, but rather what it does.

Characteristics of a Team Leader

The mark of a true leader is not a position or title held, but it is how many people are willing to follow them. Santa Clara University and the Tom Peters group outline the following leadership characteristics:

  • Honest
  • Competent
  • Forward-looking
  • Inspiring
  • Intelligent
  • Fair-minded
  • Broad-minded
  • Courageous
  • Straightforward
  • Imaginative

Team Leadership Principles

The United States Army offers 11 Leadership Principles:

  1. Be tactically and technically proficient
  2. Know yourself and seek self-improvement
  3. Know your soldiers and look out for their welfare
  4. Keep your soldiers informed
  5. Set the example
  6. Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished
  7. Train your soldiers as a team
  8. Make sound and timely decisions
  9. Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates
  10. Employ your unit in accordance with its capabilities
  11. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions

You will notice that none of the above actually tells you how to lead in a practical manner. They don’t address what to do or say in any given situation. That is because there is no real formula to being a leader. Leadership must come from within and it is based on your personality. In this guide, you will learn how to develop your innate leadership abilities and build the confidence required in being a true leader.

Back to The Top

A Brief History of Team Leadership

A Brief History of Team Leadership

Historical Leaders

Throughout the centuries, there have been leaders. We are social animals who bond together, but we look for order against the chaos of life. We look to be organized to accomplish tasks as a society that we cannot perform individually. As a result, someone inevitably ends up in charge.

Leaders in the past have generally belonged to one of three categories: Political, Military or Religious.

Political: Around 1790 B.C., Babylonian ruler Hammurabi created the codified laws, which unified his empire in what was seen as a fair order as all people were subject to the same rules.

Military: Sun Tzu was a military general in China from 500 B.C. He wrote the Art of War, and although he was a great military leader, his book is actually about how to not use armies except as a last resort, focusing more on wise political policies and strategies to prevent war.

Religious: It may be said that religious leaders have had the greatest impact on their societies, with results that last for centuries.

Modern Leaders

With the rise of the industrial revolution, a new kind of leader emerged: Economic. The so-called Captains of Industry found they could build an empire based on modern technology instead of swords. Oil Barons, railroad magnates, and factory owners built large fortunes without the benefit of armies; it was often at the expense of the people they employed. This gave rise to Union leaders and various movements designed to promote justice where abuses were perceived to exist.

The Industrial Revolution also increased the number of Scientific Leaders, as scientists now had easy access to a wide range of new materials for their work. Psychiatry and Psychology came into prominence with studies on the workplace, in regards to improving productivity and the effect on the workforce.

Studies have shown consistently that workers are more productive when they are in a “positive work environment.” The attitude and influence of the boss is a major factor in this productivity. If employees feel they are listened to, respected, and treated fairly, they are happier in their work and perform better than those who feel they are disrespected and unappreciated. Which kind of work environment would you prefer?

Back to The Top

Three Theories of Team Leadership

Three Theories of Team Leadership

The Great Man Theory

The Great Man Theory was abandoned in favor of the theories of behavioral science. It’s easy to be inspired by stories of great men and women who did great things in their lives. Alexander the Great conquered the known world. Genghis Khan then ravaged most of it. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. Harriet Tubman saved hundreds from slavery in the Underground Railroad. Mother Theresa aided and comforted thousands in Calcutta who were abandoned by society. Theory goes that these people did great things because they were simple great people determined by fate and fulfilling their destiny.

The Trait Theory

It has often been said, “Great leaders are born, not made.” Trait Theory takes this saying literally. If you have the ability to lead, you were born with it, with no way to learning those skills. This theory expands on the Great Man Theory by defining what makes great leaders “great.”

Today, we recognize that true leadership seems to come from a combination of both theories – and more. As we have seen, there are wide varieties of leadership qualities. Everyone has some ability in at least one or more of these areas. This means that under the right circumstances, anyone can rise to a leadership role and be successful based on the leadership style that best matches their personality if they know how to use that ability to properly address the situation at hand. Other leadership skills can indeed be learned, developed, and mastered.

Transformational Leadership

In 1978, James MacGregor Burns introduced the idea of transformational leadership as he researched political leaders. Burns theorized that “transformational leadership” is actually a process where leaders interact with their followers and inspire each other to advance together. His characteristics and behaviors demonstrated the differences between “management” and “leadership.” People and organizations are transformed due to the leadership style and abilities of the leader, who is able to convey a vision and guide the transformation.

Bernard M. Bass, in 1985, added to Burns’ transformational leadership theory buy shifting the focus to the followers. It is not the individual traits and vision of the leader that matter as much as it is their ability to influence the feelings, attitudes, and commitment of their followers. As we mentioned before in productivity studies, if followers feel they can trust a leader (or better yet, if they admire a leader who can stimulate a sense of loyalty and respect) the followers go beyond what was originally expected of them and will do so happily. As a result, productivity and unity increases. The followers are transformed by a charismatic, motivational leader.

Summary of The Team Leadership Theories

Through all of the studies, we have seen that there are a variety of attributes and abilities associated with leadership, and these vary from leader to leader. Some leaders are great orators, others great writers. Some leaders are very quiet, but the force of their logic or passion wins the day. The difference between a good leader and a great leader is partly the number of leadership skills they have developed. The other part is their ability to apply those skills properly to those who would follow. We will address these issues in the next section.

Back to The Top

Situational Team Leadership

Situational Team Leadership

Now we get to the nuts and bolts of team leadership. The definitive leadership style research comes from Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard, which they expressed in their Situational Leadership Model. The Hersey-Blanchard model addresses the key to practical leadership development: the attributes and styles of the followers.

Not everyone is on the same intellectual, maturity, compliance, or motivational level. Different people are motivated by different things, and this must be taken into account if one is to be a great leader. Communications experts consider it critical to tailor your message to your “target audience.” It is the followers that you want to motivate and influence and you cannot do that if you don’t know whom you are trying to motivate or influence.

The Situational Leadership model addresses four types of leadership styles, based on the follower:

  • Telling
  • Selling
  • Participating
  • Delegating

Situational Leadership: Telling

Telling is the lowest level of team leadership style. Most new team members require direct instructions, so this is called the “Telling” or “Directing” style. The follower is characterized by low competence and high commitment, being unable to comply, with possible feelings of insecurity.

The team leader must focus highly on tasks, rather than a relationship with the team member, as a relationship does not yet exist.

When a team member can’t do the job because they are unknowledgeable, the team leader must spend much more time working with the team member, offering clear instructions and regular follow up. The team leader must be encouraging and motivational, offering praise for positive results and correction for less than positive results. The idea is to motivate the follower to rise to the next level of ability.

This is a very leader-driven stage.

Situational Leadership: Selling

Selling addresses the follower who has developed some competence with an improved commitment. The follower is not convinced yet, but is open to becoming cooperative and motivated.

The team leader must still focus highly on tasks and this still requires much of the leader’s time, but the focus now also includes developing a relationship with the team member. Build upon the trust that has begun to develop and the encouragement that has been demonstrated. The team leader must spend more time listening and offering advice, scheduling the follower for additional training if the situation requires it.

The goal is to engage the team members so they can develop to the next level. There is less “telling” and more “suggesting” which leads to more encouragement, acting as a coach. It is recognition that they have progressed and motivates them to progress even further.

This is a very leader-driven stage.

Situational Leadership: Participating

Participating addresses the team member who is now competent at the job, but remains somewhat inconsistent and is not yet fully committed. The team member may be uncooperative or performing as little work as possible, despite their competence with the tasks.

The team leader must participate with and support the team member. The leader no longer needs to give detailed instructions and follow up as often, but does need to continue working with the follower to ensure the work is being done at the level required.

The team member is now highly competent, but is not yet convinced in his or her ability or not fully committed to do their best and excel. The team leader must now focus less on the tasks assigned and more on the relationship between the team member, the leader, and the team.

This is a very follower-driven, relationship-focused stage.

Situational Leadership: Delegating

Delegating is the ultimate goal: a team member who feels fully empowered and competent enough to take the ball and run with it, with minimal supervision. The team member is highly competent, highly committed, motivated, and empowered.

The team leader can now delegate tasks to the team member and observe with minimal follow up, knowing that acceptable or even excellent results will be achieved. There is a low focus on tasks and a low focus on relationships. There is no need to compliment the team member on every task, although continued praise for outstanding performance must be given as appropriate.

This is a very follower-driven stage.

Back to The Top

A Personal Inventory of Your Team Leadership

A Personal Inventory of Your Team Leadership

In 2002, Jossey Bass published a book by James Kouzes and Barry Posner called The Leadership Challenge. Building upon the Hersey-Blanchard model and other transformational leadership models, they went to the heart of what skills are required by the leader to stimulate such a transformation. What abilities are able to influence followers and bring them to accept the leader’s vision as their own?

An Introduction to Kouzes and Posner

James Kouzes and Barry Posner asked thousands of people to rank list of characteristics associated with leadership, including the seven top qualities that motivated them to follow willingly. They gave this survey to over 75,000 people over a 20-year period.

In their book, The Leadership Challenge, the authors identified five abilities that were crucial to successful leadership:

  • Model the Way: You must lead by example. You can’t come into work 10 minutes late every day if you want your employees to arrive on time.
  • Inspire a Shared Vision: If you capture the imagination, you will inspire creative thought and increase loyalty. The vision doesn’t need to be grandiose, but it needs to be communicated effectively for others to adopt it as one of their own.
  • Challenge the Process: Don’t continue doing something just because “We’ve always done it that way.” Situations change, and sometimes a policy or procedure never worked well in the first place. Think outside the box.
  • Enable Others to Act: Truly empower people to act on their own within their level of authority. The famed Ritz-Carlton hotel empowers every employee at all levels to spend up to $1000 on behalf of a guest (who is informed reimbursement will be required for whatever request they make).
  • Encourage the Heart: A positive attitude is infectious. If the leader appears passionate or excited about the vision, others will catch the enthusiasm as well.

Creating an Action Plan for Your Team Leadership

Now that you understand the various concepts, it’s time to plan how to put them into action by incorporating them into your life.

Set Leadership Goals: In leadership, as in life, you will never come to the end of your learning, but you want to rank in priority order those qualities you want to develop

Address the Goals: Determine how you will accomplish your goals. Do you feel you need to learn more about teamwork so you can better lead a team? Join a team sport. Do you want to communicate better? Take a creative writing class or join Toastmasters and get some public speaking experience. Toastmasters are also great if you are shy and want to feel more comfortable in social situations.

Seek Inspiration: Learn about a variety of leaders, including their styles with dealing with challenges. Read books and conduct research on the internet or at libraries.

Choose a Role Model: Based on your research, choose a role model that fits your personality. You might choose a dynamic leader like Teddy Roosevelt, or an intellectual leader like Albert Schweitzer or Albert Einstein. Read several biographies and find videos on his or her life.

Seek Experience: Take a leadership role on a social group or club. Gain experience working with people on many levels.

Create a Personal Mission Statement: Imagine your legacy. How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to think of you? What typeof leader you determined to be? Write a statement that defines who you will become.

Back to The Top

Modeling the Way with Your Leadership

Modeling the Way with Your Leadership

Remember that the best team leaders are examples of what they want their team members to be. George Washington rode into battle with his troops. You cannot lead from the rear, and sending your team out to take the heat and face the challenges while you remain in an ivory tower will eliminate any possibility of respect.

By definition, a leader is in the lead, right up front, ready to take the heat if something goes wrong. If something does go wrong, a true leader never blames his followers even if in fact they failed. A true leader takes the blame, and then addresses how to correct the problems that arose.

Determining Your Way

Once you have chosen your role model, study what qualities made them successful. Learn about what challenges they faced and how the challenges were met. Learn about the ideas and philosophies that drove them and made them successful. Study again the Hersey- Blanchard model and see how different situations called for different styles of leadership.

Since there is no leader in history who has not had failures, pay particular attention to how your hero deals with adversity. George Washington nearly lost the American Revolution through major hesitations in leadership and in fact, he lost New York to the British general William Howe, but he learned from his mistakes and the rest, as they say, is history.

Being an Inspirational Role Model to Your Team

Leadership is neither for the timid nor for the arrogant. Confidence is often resented or misinterpreted for arrogance. People who lack self-confidence often feel intimidated by a true leader. This should never hold you back. If you have honesty, integrity and deal with everyone fairly, then others will see that. Be willing to listen to criticism, but also consider the source. If you are too afraid of what others might say about you, or you ignore legitimate complaints insisting on respect solely because of your position, you will lose the respect and cooperation of your followers and peers.

President Theodore Roosevelt said it best:

 “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Influencing Your Team’s Perspectives

You may have heard that perception is reality. You must always present an honest, caring, dedicated attitude to inspire others. To inspire loyalty, you must have a track record of honesty and fairness. If any of your followers do feel they have been wronged, for whatever reason, you need to address the issue immediately. People talk, and a problem ignored is a problem that grows.

Related: Team Building Activities That Helps With Problem Solving

Believe it or not, the most powerful influence you can have is often not trying to influence someone. When people believe you are open to their suggestions and believe they have been heard, they will work harder even if they disagree with the methods or goals. That is the power of listening. Simply listening to others makes them feel empowered, even if you don’t accept their suggestions. If a follower feels there’s no point talking to you, they won’t, and they will disengage themselves from your vision and will only follow your directions begrudgingly.

If you are seen as going the extra mile, your team members are more likely to go the extra mile. If you hide in your office and people never see you, you will be perceived as out of the loop, uninformed, uninterested, and therefore unworthy to lead. Many a successful corporate executive makes it a point to be seen by their employees every day. If an employee is to be commended for something, it is done publicly, often right in the middle of their workplace while they are surrounded by their coworkers. That sends a powerful message to everyone.

Back to The Top

Inspiring a Shared Vision for Your Team

Inspiring a Shared Vision for Your Team

The key to true leadership is to inspire a shared vision among your team. Before you can convey a vision, however, you have to develop it. You must be clear in your vision, live it before others can see it, and model it from your behavior.

Choosing a Vision for Your Team

What do you want to accomplish, and what do you need to do to get there? Determine attainable goals and focus on them. King Arthur sought the Holy Grail. Lewis and Clark mapped much of the United States. NASA took us to the moon. What is your vision?

Your vision will provide a sense of direction for you and your tea,. In the military, focus is on “the mission.” Whatever the mission is, everyone is dedicated to it. Let your vision be like a lighthouse on a hill, guiding ships to safety and warning them away from the rocks.

Communicating Your Vision to the Team

Communication is more than just the words you say or the memos you write. Remember, actions speak louder than words. Take every opportunity to communicate your vision in words and deeds. One of the best ways to communicate a vision is to sum it up in a simple catch phrase.

Post your slogan, catch phrase and mission statement in prominent locations. When you send out emails, list it in quotes below your signature block. Hold meetings occasionally or hand out “Visionary Awards” to people who exemplify your vision. Above all, lead by example.

Identifying the Benefit for Your Team

Answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” as if you were one of your own followers. The answer might not always be obvious. Certainly, performance bonuses and awards work, but most team members enjoy being part of a larger, successful organization. Everyone loves a winner. When the home team wins at the stadium, you would think the fans in the stand were the players by the way they share in the victory and excitement.

We are social creatures who like to feel like we belong. We crave acceptance. If you can get your team to accept your vision as their own, and excite them about being part of it, they will often excel beyond what you (or they) thought possible. Be sure to reward loyalty and performance above and beyond the call of duty.

Back to The Top

Challenging the Process as a Team Leader

Challenging the Process as a Team Leader

Far too often, we cling to what is familiar, even if what we cling to is known to be inadequate. Most large teams 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, customers, former leaders. Answers and ideas 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 as Team Leader

Innovation is more than just 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 goals, working from the target backwards, rather than from the status quo looking forward.

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 change should never be made simply for the sake of change. Change can be exciting, but it can also be unnerving and difficult for team members. Constant change causes frustration. Moreover, if you seem to change too many things too often, you will lose respect, as your team perceive 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 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 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. A vision is a goal that is strived to achieve.

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 vision, set high goals that are attainable but with some degree of difficulty, and reward those who meet the goals. If a large number of followers are 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 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 as a Team Leader

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 followers, 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!

Back to The Top

Enabling Your Team to Act Through Leadership

Enabling Your Team to Act Through Leadership

As mentioned before, you cannot do your team’s work for them. Besides, if you do their work, what are they getting paid for? You have your own work to do. This is the ultimate goal of the Hersey-Blanchard situational Leadership model: to develop your team members 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 worker habits by compensating for them or overlooking them. At the same time, you cannot berate a team member for trying hard but making an honest mistake. 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

A positive attitude is essential to encouragement. 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 someone for a failure.

If a team member is willfully defiant, then feel free to be stern and resolute. Take disciplinary action if necessary and document the conversation. If you allow a team member 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 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. 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.

The Importance of Trust

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.

Also let people 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, you cannot accomplish great things.

Remember: while your team need to be able to trust you, you need to build them up to the level where you can also trust them.

Back to The Top

Encouraging the Heart as a Team Leader

One of the worst developments in the workplace was the creation of the term “Human Resources.” Formerly known as the “Personnel Department,” the focus was on dealing with people as persons. At a time when industry was supposedly focused on making the workplace more humane in order to increase job satisfaction and productivity, it took a major step backwards.

No one wants to be considered a “human resource.” A resource is something you use as long as it is functional. When the shelf life expires or is no longer as effective as it once was, you throw it away without a thought. It would be a glorious thing if every Human Resource department was abolished and the name Personnel made resurgence.

Employees, workers and team members are not robots. Human beings have intellect and emotions. Failing to deal with them on those levels will ultimately backfire. You cannot program loyalty.

Sharing Rewards with Your Teams

If your team members are going to share in the work, make certain they share in the rewards. If you are going to get a bonus for a successful task, share at least a portion of it with your team. More than one team member has felt betrayed by leadership when the boss gets a big bonus and those who do all the work get nothing. You don’t need to give them half or divide it all up among all your team members, but you should at least throw them a party, provide a free lunch, or give everyone a pair of movie tickets or a lottery ticket. Do something to show they didn’t work hard only to see you take all the credit.

Celebrating Team Accomplishments

Set both personal and team goals and milestones. Nothing motivates team members like public recognition. Although some may seem somewhat embarrassed by a public display, inside they are proud they have been recognized. There has never been a recorded study that quotes an employee who was honored in public with them saying that they never wanted that to happen again. Celebrate team milestones as well. It breaks up the routine of the workday, gives a well-deserved break, and motivates people to work harder when they return to work refreshed.

Making Celebration Part of Your Team Culture

You don’t need to decorate the office each day or have morning pep rallies, but the workplace should never be dreaded by employees. People spend most of their waking lives at work, with substantially less time for family, friends and activities they would much rather be doing. By the very definition, they come to “work” and you have to pay them to be there. People have to feel motivated by more than just a paycheck.

Be sure to have a welcoming environment where people feel respected. Celebrate special occasions to break up the routine, but don’t make celebration itself the routine of no work will get done.

Back to The Top

Basic Influencing Skills for Team Leaders

Basic Influencing Skills for Team Leaders

The best team leaders are able to influence others to do something and think it was all their idea. Don’t worry about taking credit for every good thing that happens on your watch. As the leader, you get credit whenever your team succeed because you created the environment that allowed their success.

The Art of Persuasion

Aristotle was a master of the art persuasion, and he outlines his thinking in his work, Rhetoric, where he identifies three important factors: ethos, pathos, and logos.

Ethos (credibility) persuades people using character. If you are respectful and honest, people will be more likely to follow you because of your character. Your character convinces the follower that you are someone who is worth listening to for advice.

Pathos (emotional) persuades people by appealing to their emotions. For example, when a politician wants to gain support for the bill, it inevitably is argued, “it’s for the children!” Babies, puppies, and kitties abound in advertising for a reason. Although a car is neither male nor female, they are sometimes called “sexy” in car commercials. Pathos allows you to tie into emotional triggers that will capture a person’s attention and enlist their support, but it can be easily abused, leading to a loss of Ethos, as described above.

Logos (logical) persuades people by means persuading by appealing to their intellect. This was Aristotle’s favorite and his forte’, but not everyone reacts on a rational level.

Of the three, Ethos must always come first. Ideally, you want to appeal to Pathos, back your arguments up with Logos, and never lose Ethos. President Bill Clinton appealed to people using Pathos, saying often, “I feel your pain,” but there were serious questions raised about his Ethos, and he often did not back up his appeals with Logos. There is no doubt that he was a successful, but there is also no doubt that he was not as successful as he could have been.

The Principles of Influence

Robert B. Cialdini, Ph. D. once said, “It is through the influence process that we generate and manage change.” In his studies, he outlined five universal principles of influence, which are useful and effective in a wide range of circumstances.

Reciprocation: People are more willing to do something for you if you have already done something for them first. Married couples do this all the time, giving in on little things so they can ask for that big night out or a chance to watch the game later.

Commitment: You cannot get your team to commit to you or your vision if they don’t see your commitment. Once you provide a solid, consistent example, they will feel they have to do the same.

Authority: If people believe you know what you are talking about and accept your expertise, they are far more likely to follow you. Despite the rebel cry, “Question Authority,” when people need help with something, they will seek out an authority figure. If you place a man in a tie next to a man in jeans and a ratty T-shirt, people will invariably ask the man in the tie for advice on a technical subject first simply because he looks like an authority.

 Social Validation: As independent as we like to consider ourselves, we love to be part of a crowd. It will always be a part of us, that school age desire to be accepted, no matter how many times our parents tell us, “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you join them?” People will always jump on a bandwagon if their friends like the band.

Friendship: People listen to their friends. If they know you and like you, they are far more likely to support you. A pleasant personality can make up for a multitude of failures. More than one leader has been abandoned at the first sign of trouble because they were not very well liked.

Creating an Impact as a Team Leader

As mentioned before, communication is accomplished with more than just words. The more of the previous team leadership skills you develop, the more you will make an impact. In addition, the bigger the impact, the greater the positive change you can create.

Impact is created by a number of intangible factors:

  • A confident bearing, tempered by a kindly manner
  • A strong sense of justice, tempered by mercy
  • A strong intellect, tempered by the willingness to learn
  • A strong sense of emotion, tempered by self-control
  • A strong ability to communicate, tempered by the ability to listen
  • A strong insistence on following the rules, tempered by flexibility
  • A strong commitment to innovation, tempered by situational reality
  • A strong commitment to your followers, tempered by the ability to lead
  • Above all: maintain a strong personal commitment to your vision.

Back to The Top

Setting Goals for Your Team

Setting Goals for Your Team

A vision without specific, targeted goals is just a wish or a hope. Without targeted goals, how will you ever know if your vision is being accomplished? A vision needs a project roadmap with milestones, but how do you determine what those goals are? First, we will discuss goals themselves, then how to determine what your goals should be and how to support them.

Related: Goal Setting Team Building Activities

Setting SMART Team Goals

SMART goals are:

Specific: The vision itself is general while the goals are specific targets to be met. Specific goals answer the questions of who, what, when, where, why and how questions as specifically as possible.

Measurable: Goals must be measurable in terms of progress and attainment. They must be tracked according to the amount of time or money spent, or results achieved as appropriate.

Attainable: A goal which cannot be met, is not a goal, it is an ideal. If you know you need certain infrastructure in place to accomplish your vision, you should break down your goals into attainable steps you can monitor as each step is put into place.

Realistic: A goal may be attainable, but not with the resources at hand. In that case, you need other goals to build up to the level where the attainable goal becomes realistic. A goal may be possible, but you need the right people with the right amount of time and support to make it happen.

Timed: All goals need to be accomplished within a given time frame. Deadlines may indeed be missed, but without any timetable, there will be no sense of urgency and no reason not to put it off until “later.”

Each goal should lead to the “next step” in the overall plan until the ultimate vision is reached.

Creating a Long-Term Plan

Also called Strategic Planning, the long-term plan is the road map that guides you to the ultimate realization of your vision. As discussed in the previous module. A goal may be possible, but not attainable or realistic – now. You may be missing a quality person for a key position, you may lack the funds, or time to achieve the higher-level goals, so lower level stepping stone goals must be planned.

If your goal is to unify a modern computer network throughout your organization, but you only have a few outdated computers and older shared printers, your ultimate goal will be possible and attainable, but not realistic. If you do not have the money for the new equipment and do not have a strong IT person on staff, your goal will be unattainable. If you need everything done in a week, your goal cannot be timely, as it will take much longer. Intermediate goals, however, can make your ultimate goal realistic, attainable, and timely.

You might first want to increase your revenue through increased sales, a fundraiser, long-term business loan, or by other means. You can make a goal to hire a network guru for a reasonable cost who can analyze your current systems and determine what needs to be upgraded according to modern networking technology. That analysis will provide you the information to set new goals of buying, configuring and implementing the equipment, then adding the infrastructure to network it all together. In the end, the goal that seemed impossible will become a reality, according to your original vision.

Creating a Support System

Once your goals are established you need a way to ensure they are set into motion. Duties must be assigned and documentation must be established to support and track progress. A Gantt Chart is a great way to track milestones over a period of time. You need to establish the tools necessary to track progress or development as appropriate. These might include a simple checklist for some tasks and complicated advanced software tracking systems for others.

Monitoring and oversight are the keys to achieving all goals.

Back to The Top

Conclusion

To be a leader, you must first see yourself as a leader. Based on what you have learned so far, you now know what qualities are important in a leader and you have prioritized them as they apply to you. Experience is the greatest teacher, however, and there is no substitute. If you ever had a team leader that infuriated you and made you want to quit your team, you know what not to do. If you ever had a parent, teacher, coach, or supervisor who inspired you, you have a good example to follow.

team-building-activity-quote

Subscribe to TBAE’s Blog and Receive Notifications of New Blog Posts

How to Gain Support for Change From Your Team

How to Gain Support for Change From Your Team

It is vitally important to make sure that all team members are on board with a change.

Gathering Data to Support the Change

In order to continue increasing awareness and to build desire to support the upcoming change; the management team must reach out to the team. The force field analysis, developed by German social psychologist Kurt Lewin helps a change management team to:

  • Identify pros and cons of an option prior to making a decision
  • Explore what is going right — and what is going wrong
  • Analyze any two opposing positions.

Related: Decision Making Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Addressing Concerns and Issues About the Change

If concerns or issues arise in the team, then steps must be taken to ensure awareness is continually raised and that desire to support the change is increased. Strategies that can help the change management team responsively address team’s concerns include:

  • Engaging team members, providing forums for people to express their questions and concerns
  • Equipping managers & team leaders to be effective change leaders and managers of resistance
  • Orchestrating opportunities for advocates of the change to contact those team members not yet on board
  • Aligning incentive and performance management systems to support the change.

Evaluating and Adapting

Change is not exempt from Murphy’s Law. And even if something isn’t going wrong, change management team members must constantly be observing, listening, and evaluating the progress and process during a change.

A feedback form can be used to gather information from those involved in a change to help shape the remaining course of the change project. Instead of a paper form, feedback can be obtained through online surveys (Zoomerang.com or Survey Monkey.com), an in-house questionnaire on the intranet, a few questions sent by email, or a focus group. The questions will vary depending upon the subject being queried.

The compiled results of the feedback forms can be used by the change management team members to modify the project plan and/or the communication plan or to work with specific members of the team that may be providing roadblocks to success.

Leading Status Meetings

The team leader must make sure that the project and communication plan remain on track. They need to identify, and explore any issues from the team members that have emerged, and review and consider any feedback gathered to date.

Acting as a facilitator, the leader helps to bring about learning and productivity. Communication will be a byproduct of this by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, and supervision.

He or she listens actively, asks questions, encourages diverse viewpoints, organizes information, helps the team reach consensus, and understands that the individual needs of team members will affect teamwork.

The LEAD model provides a simple methodology for facilitating a participative meeting:

Lead with objectives:  When clear objectives are stated up front, group energy is channeled toward achieving an outcome. The objectives shape the content of the meeting.

Empower to participate: In the Lead model, the facilitator is empowered to encourage active participation.

Aim for consensus: Getting the team to consensus will have members more likely to support and carry out the decisions of the team.

Direct the process: How the meeting progresses will influence the quality of the decisions of the team, and influences the commitment of team members.

Team leaders must differentiate between process and content. Content includes the topics, subjects, or issues; process is about how the topics, subjects, or issues are addressed.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Celebrating Successes

Because communications from managers and team leaders have been shown to have a significant impact on team members during a change initiative, it is appropriate that they be actively involved in celebrating success with the team members as a result of positive performance. Celebrations can occur on three levels:

  1. One on one conversation: In a private meeting, a team leader should attest to the fact that due to the team member’s effort, a change was made, and how it is succeeding. He or she should extend verbal thanks to the team member.
  2. Public recognition: Public recognition officially acknowledges outstanding performance and points out a role model that helped make a successful change happen. Team leaders should carefully consider who receives recognition, and not alienate team members who participated in the change but who many not have distinguished themselves significantly.
  3. Team celebrations: Fun or engaging team activities are used to celebrate key milestones by a group. They include buffet or restaurant lunches, dinner events, or can include group outings to sports, amusement, or cultural events. It is important that these types of celebrations try to include the involvement of the primary change sponsor in some way.

Sharing the Results and Benefits of the Change

In order to sustain the impact of a change, it is important for everyone who is involved in the process to know what results are occurring. This occurs across a number of dimensions. Ongoing feedback is needed from team members at all levels.

 

Subscribe to TBAE’s Blog and Receive Notifications of New Blog Posts

Helping Your Team See the Big Picture

Helping Your Team See the Big Picture

Most team members, are responsible for specific areas, and they have little understanding of the impact their decisions have on other areas. When too much focus is placed on one aspect of the organization, it is difficult to make decisions for the good of the company. In order to make effective decisions, it is necessary for the team to examine the big picture.

Short and Long Term Interactions

When looking at the big picture, it is necessary for the team to consider long term as well as short term interactions. Short term interactions are immediate, single exchanges, and they are necessary for the team to survive. Without looking at the big picture, however, short term interactions may hinder the long term success of the team. For example, a team member may damage a business relationship by using aggressive sales techniques, costing the team sales in the future.

Long term interactions are processes or relationships that are essential to growth. Long term team success requires the long term interactions. The relationships with customers, vendors, and other team members need to be carefully cultivated. Failure to cultivate relationships occurs when there is a lack of communication or communication is not respectful. Long term relationships help guide the future of the team.

Improving Long Term Interactions

  • Build relationships: Relationships must be based on mutual trust, respect, and support.
  • Use feedback: Request feedback and listen to complaints.
  • Offer value: Provide value in product, services, and compensation.

Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Recognize Growth Opportunities

It is essential for every team to recognize growth opportunities to ensure long term success. An opportunity is any project that will create growth. Opportunities, however, can be overlooked when we do not pay attention to the big picture. If recognizing opportunities does not come easily for the team, there are steps to take that will ensure that the team do not overlook growth opportunities.

  • Identify market trends: Monitor changes in the market such as technological advancements.
  • Actively research customer needs: Conduct market research and anticipate customer needs, which you will fulfill.
  • Pay attention to competitors: Take advantage of a competitor’s weakness and learn from their strengths.
  • Monitor demographic changes: Changes in demographics indicate a potential shift in customer base or needs.
  • Consult team members: Do not overlook team members’ ideas; encourage brainstorming.
  • Monitor abilities of the team: Pay attention to the skills of the team. Offer training or hire new team members in response to growth opportunities.

Mindfulness of Decisions

Decisions need to be made carefully and mindfully. In stressful situations, it is easy to make decisions based on emotions or external pressure. The team should recognize these events which increase the risk of making a poor decision that can have long term consequences. Mindful decision making combines reason with intuition to come up with decisions that are based in the present.

Decision making Steps:

  1. Be in the moment: Pay attention to how you feel physically and emotionally. This allows you to reach your intuition and understand any feelings of conflict and their source. The source of the conflict may evolve as you become mindful. For example, conflict over the cost of change may shift to conflict that the change goes against team values. Naming the conflict will help the team make the decision without fear.
  2. Be Clear: Investigate for clarity. Begin by investigating your feelings and identifying the type of decision you are making. A neutral decision, for example, should not create a great deal of stress. Once the team identifies the decision, they should make sure they have collected the necessary information to make the decision. Additionally, they should consult the people who will be affected by the decision.
  3. Make a choice: Once they have all the information, they should write down their decision. Take some time to consider this decision. If you are still comfortable with the decision after a few days, act on it.

Related: Decision Making Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Everything is Related

On a team, it is necessary for each person to perform specific roles and functions. Every role in the team is related to each other. For example, poor production and poor customer service will affect sales. Too many sales returns cost the company money, damaging the profits. Each aspect of the business relies on the others. Most people only focus on their specific roles, without considering how they affect the other departments. Looking at the big picture allows the team to see how everything is related, and it begins with the leadership. The leader of the team is responsible for the culture and values.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

How to Relate:

  • Be Comprehensive: Monitor every area of the team to make sure each one is reaching their goals.
  • Be Balanced: Make sure that each area of the team is sustainable, and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Be Incorporated: Integrate every aspect of the team with the others. Show team members how they affect each other and the team as a whole.

Subscribe to TBAE’s Blog and Receive Notifications of New Blog Posts

Feeling, Looking and Sounding the Part as Team Leader

Feeling, Looking and Sounding the Part as Team Leader

Being positive and feeling good about one’s self as a team leader is the key, you must feel the part. Positivity is a leading factor in one’s self confidence, it will help you keep a feeling of worth. Staying positive will provide you a great asset in regards to self talk and recognizing and working with your strengths. Everyone has weaknesses and by being positive you can recognize your weaknesses and then work on them.

A team leader who has a strong sense of personal worth makes a confident, positive appearance. Looking the part is important as it influences the team members. It will provide a boost to confidence and in turn a boost to your performance as team leader. Once higher performance is obtained it will then cycle back and make you more confident. Looking the part is an important part of being more assertive and confident as it is relatively quick and easy to do and pays off great dividends.

Feeling and looking the part would not be complete without voice. Given that we know that 38% of communication effectiveness is governed by voice quality, improving your overall voice message delivery to your team is worthwhile.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Identifying Your Worth

Worth is defined as “sufficiently good, important, or interesting to justify a specified action.” Team leaders with a sense of self worth exude confidence in themselves. They feel in change of their own destiny, and are happy. To create a picture of your self-worth, take a self-concept inventory, analyzing multiple attributes in your life.

Creating Positive Self-Talk

Positive self talk allows you to recognize, validate, and apply your full potential with respect to all that you are, and do as a team leader. Also called affirmations (to make something firm), positive self-talk serves as your own personal accomplishment scale. Below are some tips for positive self-talk:

  1. Use the present tense; deal with what exists today.
  2. Be positive – rather than affirming what you don’t want.
  3. Remain personal; self-talk must relate to you and you only.
  4. Keep sentences short and simple.
  5. Go with your gut. If it “clicks”, then just say it. Self-talk should feel positive, expanding, freeing, and supporting.
  6. Focus on new things, rather than changing what is.
  7. Act “as if”; give yourself permission to believe the idea is true right now.

If self-talk is new to you, it is a good idea to first think about the things that are wonderful about you, such as:

  • I have someone I love, and we enjoy spending time together
  • I am a mother or father, fulfilled in this role
  • My career is challenging and fulfilling.
  • When I learn something new, I feel proud.
  • I am worthwhile because I breathe and feel; I am aware.
  • When I feel pain, I love, I try to survive. I am a good person.

Identifying and Addressing Strengths and Weaknesses

After you have listed words and phrases for self-attributes, they can be classified as strengths or weaknesses. This exercise also allows participants to re-frame weaknesses into messages that don’t feed a negative self-worth.

The Importance of Appearance

In the dictionary, appearance is defined as an external show, or outward aspect. Your confidence depends significantly on your personal thoughts and perceptions about the way you look. Appearance is as important today as it ever was. The first thing noticed when meeting someone new is their appearance. That is why it is important as you only have one first impression.

The Role of Body Language

Body language is a form of non-verbal communication involving the use of stylized gestures, postures, and physiologic signs which act as cues to other people. Humans unconsciously send and receive non-verbal signals through body language all the time.

One study at UCLA found that up to 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues. Another study indicated that the impact of a performance was determined 7 percent by the words used, 38 percent by voice quality, and 55 percent by non-verbal communication. Your body language must match the words used. If a conflict arises between your words and your body language, your body language governs. The components of body language include:

Eye contact: The impact of your message is affected by the amount of eye contact you maintain with the team member with whom you are speaking. One who makes eye contact is normally perceived as more favorable and confident.

Posture: Find comfortable sitting and standing postures that work for you; avoid any rigid or slouching positions.

Excessive or unrelated head, facial, hand and body Movement: Too much movement can divert attention from the verbal message. Your facial expressions should match the type of statement you are making; smile when saying “I like you”, and frowning when saying “I am annoyed with you”. Occasional gestures that reinforce your verbal message are acceptable.

First Impressions Count

It takes as few as seven seconds – and no more than thirty seconds — for the team to form a first impression about you. Like it or not, people make judgments about others right away based on a presenting appearance. And you never have a second chance to make a first impression. Below are some tips to help you make that positive first impression when someone.

  • Body language. Remember that body language makes up to 55% of a communication.
  • Dress and grooming. It’s less about your budget, and more about clean, pressed, and event-appropriate clothing with neat grooming.
  • Handshake. Use a medium to firm handshake grip, avoiding a weak handshake, or overly firm one that can cause potential discomfort to another.
  • Body Movement. Use a mirror, or enlist the help of a friend to make sure that your movements are not overly active –and that they support the nature of your message.

It’s How You Say It

We are all born with a particular tone of voice, which we can learn to improve. The goal is to sound upbeat, warm, under control, and clear. Here are some tips to help you begin the process.

  1. Breathe from your diaphragm
  2. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated; avoid caffeine because of its diuretic effects
  3. Posture affects breathing, and also tone of voice, so be sure to stand up straight
  4. To warm up the tone of your voice, smile
  5. If you have a voice that is particularly high or low, exercise it’s by practicing speaking on a sliding scale. You can also sing to expand the range of your voice.
  6. Record your voice and listen to the playback
  7. Deeper voices are more credible than higher pitched voices. Try speaking in a slightly lower octave. It will take some practice, but with a payoff, just as radio personalities have learned
  8. Enlist a colleague or family member to get feedback about the tone of your voice.

Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Sounding Confident

Since 38% of the messages received by a listener are governed by the tone and quality of your voice, its pitch, volume and control all make a difference in how confident you sound when you communicate to your team. Below are some specific tips.

Pitch (Pitch means how high or low your voice is.) Tip: Avoid a high-pitched sound. Speak from your stomach, the location of your diaphragm.

Volume (The loudness of your voice must be governed by your diaphragm.) Tip: Speak through your diaphragm, not your throat

Quality (The color, warmth, and meaning given to your voice contribute to quality.) Tip: Add emotion to your voice. Smile as much as possible when you are speaking.

The need for assertive, confident communication can occur at any time, in virtually any place. So how do you make this all come together? Here are some practice suggestions.

  • Start simply and gain some experience in safe environments, such as at the grocery store, or with family or friends
  • Set aside time when you can read out loud without being disturbed; listen to yourself
  • Challenge yourself to speak with someone new every day
  • Set a realistic time frame to make the shift; don’t expect to change your speaking style overnight.

Reducing Anxiety

Often, anxiety inhibits your ability to act and sound confident when speaking. Knowing how to perform a quick relaxation exercise can help diffuse anxiety and allow you to speak more confidently.

 

Subscribe to TBAE’s Blog and Receive Notifications of New Blog Posts

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.
  • 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.

Related: Decision Making Outcome Based Team Building Activities

 

team-building-activity-quote

Subscribe to TBAE’s Blog and Receive Notifications of New Blog Posts

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.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

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.

Related: 4 Easy Steps To More Successful Delegation

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.

team-building-activity-quote

Subscribe to TBAE’s Blog and Receive Notifications of New Blog Posts

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.

 

team-building-activity-quote

Subscribe to TBAE’s Blog and Receive Notifications of New Blog Posts

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.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

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.”

Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Activities

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.

 

team-building-activity-quote

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.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

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.

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.

 

team-building-activity-quote

Subscribe to TBAE’s Blog and Receive Notifications of New Blog Posts

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.

Related: Problem Solving Outcome Based Team Building Activities

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.

 

team-building-activity-quote

Subscribe to TBAE’s Blog and Receive Notifications of New Blog Posts