- Be a participant leader. Get in the trenches with your people, and work alongside them to see/solve their problems. You must build a track record of being fully invested in them for them to trust you and view you as a collaborative leader who cares. Be available, approachable, vulnerable, and high-touch relationally. You decrease stress through connection.
- Give them responsibility. Your team wants challenges that are a bit of a stretch but within their wheelhouse of strengths. Equip them with the training to boost their skills to rise to these challenges that are a bit outside their comfort zone but inside the delusional zone. Cross-train to make them more versatile to the team/organization.
- Listen and validate all voices. Encourage everyone on your team to suggest creative ideas and celebrate them every time they speak up–or even push back respectfully. The more ideas on the table, the more chances for a breakthrough. Create an open environment for feedback, and you will receive more of it. Support their ideas by promoting them, implementing them, and expanding them.
- Be a servant leader. Approach everyday interactions with your team with a How can I help? mentality. Humbly, jump in the backseat and clear paths for your people to do their best work. Be a playmaker or catalyst to pull triggers that remove bottlenecks. Get them the tools and resources to rock their initiatives.
- Pay attention to strengths/weaknesses. First, you must know your strengths (to spend 80% of your time/energy in your sweet spots) and weaknesses (to staff around them). Then, learn where your teammates shine and max out. Put people where they can add the most value, being willing to re-adjust as necessary to “put them in the right seat on the bus.” Use assessments to discover this data.
- Re-connect them constantly to the WHY. Armed with accountability to do their part to accomplish the organization’s mission, your team is unstoppable. But vision fades without creative and continual reminders of what the team stands for and where it is going. Stories alongside goals/expectations/outcomes can put the WHY back on their radar screens every week.
- Post a scoreboard. Unless you know the score, you don’t know if you are winning. Keep showing your team their current state measured against the vision, and take every chance to celebrate wins along the journey. Don’t be afraid to course-correct, too, when a negative pattern presents itself.
- Develop leaders intentionally. While not every team member will eventually move into a leadership position, each one can grow in leadership skills. Guide and coach through 1-to-1’s to bring out their best and excite them to show initiative. Delegate portions of meetings or task force leadership in order to share the load and build ownership among the team.
- Keep the positive feedback flowing. Specifically praise outstanding behaviors around every corner, and be creative in your recognition privately and publicly. Recognize people at annual gatherings and team meetings, via email kudos, and handwritten thank-you notes. Boost the discouraged after losses with “you can do it” messages. You can create a positive culture with a focus on the positive.
Which of these 9 leadership actions are you already practicing, and which one must be added to your weekly action plan? Want to talk more about it? Start with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out via LinkedIn at my Paul D. Casey page.