As leaders, we have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to help our teams and partnerships thrive. As we talked about a few weeks ago, it’s critical to get clear on your priorities as well as “who is doing what” within the team. It doesn’t stop there. Our actions – or inactions – can make a huge difference in whether we are able to collectively accomplish the goals we are striving to achieve.
How many times have you been part of a team where the leader was so involved in every aspect of the team that you couldn’t really get anything done unless he approved it or it was her idea? Or conversely, how many times have you been part of a team where the leader was so busy with other things that she was basically absent and you didn’t have any support or clarity? How many times have you experienced both situations? It can be incredibly frustrating and discouraging!
As leaders, we have often dedicated our lives, our careers or our volunteer efforts to addressing the important health issue, community service initiative or ministry passion that formed the team or partnership. We may not even be aware that we are hindering our team’s success and ability to grow and thrive. Ironically, by taking too much or too little action, we find similar outcomes.
Here are 3 ways you can tell if your leadership might be hindering your team.
- Delays. If you are constantly having to readjust your timeline or it’s taking much longer to finish a project than you anticipated, you may be hindering your team. Perhaps you are trying to be overly involved – or trying to have too much control – and this is causing significant delays. Alternatively, perhaps you have been too busy on other projects or unwilling to address problem people to actively lead your team toward meeting your collective goals. If you aren’t sure, ask some team members who you trust to be honest with you about what they think might be happening to cause the delays. If you need to be less involved and give up some control, then do it! If you need to be more involved and hold people accountable, then do it!
- Departures. If some of your best team members have decided to leave or you find that they aren’t contributing as much as usual, you may be hindering your team. Have you clearly defined priorities, roles and responsibilities? Are you allowing your team members to fulfill their assigned roles and responsibilities or are you constantly changing your mind and pulling them away into other areas? Are you supporting your team members by providing timely feedback without micromanaging them? Are you confronting the team members who are being critical or negative toward others? If people are leaving or your high performers are not contributing to the level they usually do, take some time to reflect on what might be happening and if possible, ask them for feedback. Once you learn more about what might be happening, make necessary adjustments and be willing to grow so that you can also help your team grow again.
- Discouragement. If look around the room during a team meeting and folks seem disengaged and frustrated or if you find that there is no longer energy and excitement about your collective goals, you may be hindering your team. Your team members will probably not directly tell you that they are discouraged (though if they do, then listen!). You will probably be able to see it in their non-verbal communication first. You may also see it in their actions – or really lack of action toward your common goals. Similarly to the other areas, if you see this happening, talk with your team members and actively listen to them. Be willing to find out more about why they might be discouraged. Again, they may not tell you they are discouraged, but you can ask questions to understand what is going well, what needs to be changed and how you can support each team member and the overall team to be successful. Take the time to reflect, listen and then take action on what you learn from them!
So what about you? What are some ways you have learned how to move from hindering to helping the teams you lead?
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