When you make the transition from a skilled team member to a leadership role, it can be difficult as you realise that your success is now greatly influenced by the performance of your subordinates. You need to impart the value of continuous improvement and performance so that the collective will succeed. Here are some ways to help you drive the message home.
Model the way
As a leader, you’ll definitely have your own management style. No matter what approach you take, you have to be a consistent role model. Each employee should be asking themselves, ‘What would my boss do?’ when faced with a challenging situation. This is because they should respect your leadership and decision-making abilities.
Whether you’re a tough-love enforcer or the team’s biggest cheerleader, you can’t ignore this one aspect of your role as a leader. So, as you require your team to read a book every month, or try out a success coach app, make sure they also see you doing the same things and always seeking out self-improvement.
Lack of trust in an organisation is like rust or junk in the gears of a machine. You set objectives and give clear instructions, but then, if your people keep questioning your judgment or subverting your intentions, any progress will be slow and costly. Trust issues don’t just manifest along the chain of command, either; individuals can doubt their own ability to perform assigned tasks, leading to procrastination and delays.
To build trust, you have to entrust each individual with responsibility. It doesn’t have to be a major task, but it should be one that matters and is suited to their current capabilities. Using the comfort-stretch-panic zone model can help you visualise what sort of work every team member is currently performing, and judge which tasks can push them into the desired ‘stretch’ zone for improvement.
Communicate and collaborate
How much time do you spend together as a team? In a standard office-type setup, most employees put in shifts of eight hours every day, five days a week. That’s a significant amount of time to be spending with each other. Following the ‘average of the five’ principle, it’s likely that individual employees will be heavily influenced by each other.
Encourage a culture of good communication and collaboration where they can give and receive constructive criticism along with positive feedback for what they do. Remember that each employee has unique skills and experiences to share. Bring everyone together on fun activities outside the workplace where this sharing can take place in a stress-free environment.
Giving your employees more responsibility or encouraging them to learn new skills will only go so far if you don’t show them that it matters. Creating a culture of accountability isn’t so much about incentives for success or consequences of failure — those are just two facets of the whole.
What can be even more effective is relating their new tasks and skills to the big picture. Show them how these things are meaningful to the company’s overall success and to their individual career paths, for instance. Then, maintain accountability by following up on their progress towards what’s truly important to them.
There are many other ways in which you can help your team grow from a leadership position. Explore these methods along with others, such as investment in further training or education, so that you continue to build your success on that of your people.