I am sharing some personal learnings on effectively Leading high-performance teams that have worked for me & what I have experienced working with Leaders who I have looked up to over the years. Honing and developing some of these will require conscious efforts (acceptance and willingness) and subsequent behavioral changes (the tough part) over time. Hopefully, this should resonate with a few folks.
Start with absolute trust
Trust is the invaluable currency that every reporting relationship deals in. Trust is hard-earned but easily spent (lost). More often than not people will reciprocate trust, at times, even when they didn’t plan to, just because you trusted them! Rather than scrutinizing, questioning, and doubting decisions and intentions, analyze objectively and observe fully before jumping to conclusions. Also, as the leader always be prepared to take the fall for your team. Your fault or not, YOU need to take responsibility. This builds not only trust but personal credibility and psychological safety for your team. Be greedy, yearn for more, and ‘earn’ as much trust as possible.
Making mistakes is part of the journey
Most people are not perfectionists and will surely not get it 100% right in one go. Make it amply clear that making mistakes is part of their learning journey. Patiently explain the right way to do it. Lead, show how it’s done, and move out of the way. While it’s ok to make mistakes, it’s also unacceptable to repeat the same mistake again. The second time, it becomes oversight, and the third time becomes a habit which is a hallmark of complacency. That is where the buck should stop.
Make their growth, your personal agenda
As an able leader, make it your personal responsibility to ensure that your team becomes a better version of themselves, not only professionally, but as individuals as well. Acting as a coach, mentor, guide to your team is of paramount importance as you play a key role in how their careers AND individuality shape up. When your team sees you invested in their success, completely contrary and away from a normal transactional, bartered relationship, that is when the magic will happen.
Different strokes for different folks
If it’s only about reaching the office on time, killing your KRAs, and having a good night’s sleep probably robots will fare better (without even sleep being a necessity!). People bring a LOT of personal baggage (good or bad) rife with emotions that surely drive their professional interactions. Thus, it’s always good to know WHO the other person is, WHAT drives them and what doesn’t. As an able leader, you would have to don multiple hats, at times even acting contrary to your natural demeanor to just establish that personal rapport with your team.
Give full context on work deliverables
Even if people don’t ask, still give context. It’s important for people to know why they are doing what they have been asked to. Understanding the bigger picture will help your teams connect the dots and understand the impact of their work, however small it may be. Which metric gets impacted? Which needle moves if we deliver well? How do the small steps he/she takes to contribute to the larger success of the organization?
Do not try to solve for everyone
It’s not about keeping everyone happy, but the RIGHTFUL ones. Solve for people who deserve, act with ownership and reciprocate trust; the ones who are self-driven and need the least ‘managing’. Once again, do not try to keep everyone happy, you’ll fail miserably.
Empathy goes a long way
Humans first, ‘resources’ later (or never!). We are emotional beings who make daily choices governed by our emotions. Scientific research says that high EQ is one of the most critical ingredients for a leader’s success. Acting empathetically sends a strong message to your team saying, ‘I care for you’. Yes, there will be instances where people might misuse empathy and trust, go ahead and do it anyway.
This article was first published here. It has been republished with permission from the author. The views presented here are solely of the author.