We talk about teamwork quite a lot in the world of business. We want more engaged, more productive teams. We want them to be more self-driven, more successful. And yet, all too often, we look at ourselves as the ‘leader’ and our employees as the ‘team’ when really, we ARE the team. Like the front pin in a rack of bowling pins, if we go down, you can bet those around us will.
As the leader, WE determine the overall energy of our teams. WE set the pace for performance and expectations. No matter how capable our people are, it isn’t typical that they will meet standards that we don’t set AND live by. What standards and goals must we as leaders embrace personally and professionally to create the right atmosphere and motivation for our teams?
There has to be respect, always. If you don’t respect someone, get them out because whether you want it to or not, your team will see it and it will foster a lack of respect within your team.
Help Each Other
This sounds like a no brainer, of course we want to help each other, but everyone gets busy, focused on their own work and before long, we become boats adrift alone in the ocean instead of a fleet of ships in formation. The only way to counter this is to actively set an intention to help each other even if it creates more work or takes you away from something. As long as it’s working toward common goals, we must be ready to assist our team members.
In order to grow our teams we have to keep everyone in the loop. We have to remind them where we are going and we have to do it often. Sharing our vision helps get our people excited and knowing the goals, large and small, gives them the energy and motivation to keep going even when it gets hard.
Pause Before Reacting
Look, leaders are people too. We get frustrated, angry, impatient, disappointed, incredulous, all of it. We can’t keep the emotions from happening but we can keep them in check. We can do this by practicing pausing before we speak or react. When there is an issue, pause, take a breath before you react. And if it’s hard to stay calm, stick a pin in it. You can say, “you know what, I’d like to think about this” or “let’s come back to this later after I have had a chance to get all of the information.” This way you can process your negative emotions on your own and talk to your people when you are in the headspace to problem solve.
Take the Focus Off Of Problems And Put It On Solutions
Ultimately these are the same thing right? Trying to fix something that isn’t working. But focusing on solutions invites your team to address an issue and accept responsibility without shame and blame. People just naturally do better when there is room for a fix and solutions without getting mired in their failures.
Honor Your Commitments
It is so simple, you cannot expect your employees to keep their commitments if you do not. It’s not about being dishonest or untrustworthy, but when you let things slide that you said you would do, even small things, over time you erode trust. Trust is vital to a well performing team.
Little Things Mean A Lot
Things move so fast and there is always so much to do, so it’s hard to pause and catch up. So when you want to do something nice for your team, don’t just bring in lunch for them, HAVE lunch with them. Eat together, take those twenty minutes and don’t have a meeting, just eat. Talk about business, problems, life, whatever, but be present. Sure you could be checking email or making a dent in the paperwork that threatens to topple your desk, but you’ll get that done anyhow. You’ll net much more giving a little bit of yourself and your time to your team.
Be Willing To Do More
Accept that in a leadership position you will always be expected and motivated to do more. Whether it’s the position, the prestige or the paycheck, chances are, you are better incentivized to keep going long after the clock hits 5:00pm. It’s unlikely you can get your team to work harder than you but when they see you continually put in the extra effort, they are more likely to give you their all.
It’s hard to continually drive team members to a goal if you don’t celebrate reaching it. Come on, we are all people and people like to be complimented, validated, rewarded, all of it. It doesn’t really matter WHAT you choose to do but do it.