Authored by Danielle Gault
When stepping into a team leadership role, a team leader gains a certain degree of power simply from the authority granted them in their assigned position. They have to make decisions and they have to get work done with and through others.
Where are we going?
The team leader must be clear about his/her responsibility for getting the job done. What are the goals and how do these goals tie into the overall goals of the company? Without a clear understanding of what you will be measured on, how can you inspire your team? Performance measurements are critical to the success of any leader. With measurements, you can gauge if each member of your team is moving toward the team’s goals or away from them. If away, what can you do to alter the course and close the gap between what the team is achieving and what the team is meant to achieve? With clarity of the company’s goals along with a good understanding of the leadership role, the team leader has a better chance at engaging the team for achieving successful results.
How are we getting there?
Along with clear goals, teams are more engaged if the leader gets them involved in decisions that affect them. Generally speaking, we can all do our jobs effectively and that is why we are hired. It is dealing with people’s expectations and needs that make engaging others a challenge. One of the biggest challenges for team leaders is not to focus on themselves when fulfilling the responsibilities handed to them. In reality, if they focused on their staff and the team as a whole, they could learn how to get the job done in ways that make sense to the individual team player. How do you do that? Look at behaviors.
“You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.” – Bob Nelson, Management Author
Behaviors tell you much about a person. We all want to contribute but we tend to want to contribute more once we’re recognized for the gifts and strengths that we strive to bring to the table to fulfill the goals of our team and of the organization. Some people need pats on the back and verbal acknowledgment of their results; some need to be recognized for their competency and wish to have goals that continuously challenge them; others need to play it safe and may wish to hold back or not stick their necks out because it may have been chopped off in another workplace. For each of these team players, the team leader has to respond accordingly.
Ask questions; draw the person out by asking them how you can help them fulfill their goals and what kind of support works best for them. If you have to teach them a new task ask them what their preferred learning style is and instruct them in a way that makes sense to them. Some might be visual learners and want to have the overview first and be left to figure things out themselves once they have the big picture; some may be more of an interactive learner and want to discuss it with you, work a bit on it, and discuss it some more and go on in this fashion; or some may be hands-on learners where they just want to be left alone and learn about it as they go. You could even have some learners who are a combination of more than one style of learning or it could depend on the project or task.
How do you know which style of learning is best? Ask them. Too often we get ourselves in the way and fail to be open to what is important to the other person. Keep an open mind and remember that you don’t have to have all the answers but you do need to ask the right questions to get more information.
To keep your team engaged, listen to them, ask open-ended questions for clarification, summarize what the team member said, ask them for their thoughts on how to resolve the situation, and let them know that you value their input and will consider all aspects before moving forward with any decision that effects your team.
Be sure to recognize each team member’s contributions as they are displayed and to celebrate team successes in any way that you can, and never lose sight of the fact that you are being measured by the successful engagement of the team you are leading.
Danielle Gault, Founder of Corporate & Wellness Training Services, is available to assist companies and individuals with coaching, assertiveness, teambuilding, problem-solving and more. www.corporate-training-services.com