It can happen to the best of leaders. In your drive to create a team of incredibly talented and dedicated individuals who are aligned to the business’s objectives and are focused on delivering quality results, you sometimes falter. How’s it even possible to falter when all your intensions are towards the best interests of the team and the company. Yet sometimes even with the best of intensions you end up doing things that may damage your team.
There are certain things you as leaders practice – some you’ve learnt about and some that are out of habit. Some of these practices may be counterproductive to your team’s development and ability to be successful. And while you may not be consciously trying to destroy your team, it’s probably a good idea to see if you do practice some of these habits which can have a negative effect on your teams.
1. Evading Empowerment
When I think of empowering the team I think of three things that leaders must do:
- leave egos outside
- trust their team
- listen to their team
There are other traits that can be added to these but I feel these three make up the core of how leaders can empower their teams. I’m sure you won’t doubt that empowerment is essential to maintain a cohesive, motivated and focused team. But it won’t be possible if you as the leader aren’t willing to let go of your ego, come down to the level of your team and say “we can do this together”. Spread the function’s goals across the team to each individual and then trust them to deliver. Delegate and move on, trusting them to deliver. Micromanagement leads to frustration and lack of confidence in your team. Trust them to do their best that’ll be in favor of the department and company. And let’s not forget to listen to their opinions and feedback. After all, once you’ve shed your ego, you’ve opened the possibility of “having a say”.
2. Communication Breakdown
I’ve often heard leaders complain that their team doesn’t exactly listen to them or does things that wasn’t aligned with the expectations they had. Honestly, if there’s any change that needs to be made it’s in the communication that occurs between a leader and their team. Sometimes the messages and expectations aren’t clearly communicated which leads to wasteful efforts and frustration. Other times the expectations are clear but aren’t necessarily remembered because communication occurs so infrequently. All things that can damage your team’s performance.
It’s easy to get lost in daily operations and not have the time to “talk”. But if you’re not communicating with your team, the people who are actually working to achieve goals, then all that effort could result to chaos that’s focused on no particular end result. Annual or semi-annual formal reviews and meetings with your team members simply aren’t enough. The communication needs to flow informally and formally. It needs to be sporadic and frequent. The notion that expectations aren’t clear should be unheard of. And that’s because you have talked about the values and the mission so many times that your team knows exactly what’s expected of them.
3. Being Indecisive
It’s understandable that as a leader your team turns to you for wisdom and guidance. It’s quite challenging being the source of solutions and decisions. Sometimes it’s even risky knowing you’re about to make a big, impactful decision. So you put it off for another day allowing yourself more time to think it over. Leave it hanging for longer and your indecisiveness will damage your team and drop their productivity as they themselves will become unable to commit to decisions. It also makes you lose credibility in the eyes of your team.
Instead of procrastinating, do your research and information gathering swiftly so you can make your decision. Consult your team to see what they suggest (you’ll be surprised at the creative solutions you’ll get from them). Your decision will help your team move ahead. You may not be 100% certain that it’s the best choice or direction, but at least you’ve made a decision and are brave enough to see how it unfolds.
Your team is an extension of you. Being a leader requires you to bring out your A-game (the best of yourself). It’s not easy always being on your toes and making sure that your practices and habits can positively impact your team. It requires a lot of self-disciplining. But being aware of things that may damage your team is a good start towards a positive and productive professional journey.