Last week, we introduced the concept of the eight keys for engaging your team through effective leadership, and we discussed four great ways that you can offer better leadership and get better results with others.
Now, let’s take a look at four more keys for engaging your team through effective leadership.
The fifth key is to enrich work roles and your work environment. You need to find out what’s important to each individual in his or her work. What’s missing from their role, in terms of actual work or fulfillment? If the individual likes creative and innovative work, you should give them more tasks that require skills for problem solving, leading projects, making decisions, and brainstorming, just to name a few.
You should help the people on your team make their roles more strategic. One way you can achieve this is by cross-training them on other key functions in the organization, in turn making them more valuable to the company. Another way is by delegating more interesting work to your team, rather than keeping it to yourself. Many leaders make the mistake of keeping the most important or interesting projects for themselves, delegating only those tasks or larger jobs they find less interesting—it’s only human nature to fall into this trap, but don’t do it!
The sixth key for engaging your team through effective leadership is personalizing your approach. We’re all unique, so what drives and motivates you definitely isn’t the same for your team. What do your employees value? What are their needs, wants, emotions, and motivational drivers? If you don’t know, then how are you going to lead, influence, and motivate?
Similarly, how you like to lead is how you yourself like to be led. This concept also applies to your team. If you are oriented to production, results, and performance as a leader, some of your team members may respond well to this style. But you should prepare yourself for others who are more collaborative and team oriented in their personal styles—you, as the leader, must make adjustments in how you lead, influence and motivate. It’s one of your biggest responsibilities.
You must recognize that no one leadership style is better than another. There’s no room for a “my way or the highway” type of attitude. Leading isn’t about being right—it’s about doing right. The key is making slight adjustments on interpersonal and cultural context. Leaders adapt.
Another big element to personalizing your approach is how you deal with sensitivities and hot button issues for your individual team members. A good leader knows when to address these issues head on, and he or she also knows when to avoid these things and stay in tune with the important issues that need to be addressed for getting the work done.
The seventh key to engaging your team through effective leadership is creating a high performance environment. You must ensure the focus of the team is clear. A group needs a common purpose—we all have traits or characteristics that we like and dislike about each other; however, with common purpose, these common likes and dislikes shrink into irrelevance in high performance professional environments.
Make sure that the work you give to your team is challenging and rewarding, structured and delegated in such a way that they can support and help each other, rather than compete for your favor. Each team member needs to be able to trust and understand each of the others, and, by extension of these values, appreciate the contributions of others on the team.
You should acknowledge and leverage the strengths and weaknesses of the collective group, while also acknowledging weaknesses and closing the group’s performance gaps.
The eighth and final key to engaging your team through effective leadership is empowering others to achieve. This is a lofty goal, but you must set your sights on it and make it happen. Let us empower you with some ways to do so
Empowering others to achieve means that you’re also empowering them to fail. Failure is the best teacher, so allow it to happen and then see how an empowered employee reacts next time—odds are that not only will they not make the same mistake twice, that they will achieve exponentially greater results on the next attempt.
As an impetus for your team to take risks and learn from them, you should reward effort four times as much as you reward for results. This conditions people to embrace challenges and take chances based on what they think are their best ideas and efforts, versus acting in an overly careful and cautious framework that grips most teams in mediocrity. People shouldn’t fear the consequences of their work—they should be able to embrace failure as a teacher.
Involve others in shaping plans for the group. When people believe they are collaborating on a professional roadmap that will shape their immediate future, the buy-in is unbelievable.
Encourage groups or individuals to resolve problems on their own—avoid prescribing a solution for your team when you know they could probably reach one on their own. Again, this is about empowerment and seizing every opportunity you have to transfer power to them.
Don’t micromanage your team. Stay out of their hair and let them work, flourishing under as little pressure from your end as possible. Minimize the need for continual updates on progress. Instead of an update based on some arbitrary notion of time—such as a weekly conference call—tailor your updates to actual milestones dictated by the work. That way, when you do engage, there will actually be something to talk about and measure, versus simply micromanaging to a calendar.
Finally, develop your replacement. This shows more than a little fearlessness on your part! High performing teams have a majority of people on them that could replace the leader immediately, or, they could at least collectively band together to mitigate the loss of the leader. Funny, that—the notion that the best leaders are the ones who actually make themselves expendable.