Join Sara Canaday for an in-depth discussion in this video Coaching story: Carl, part of Transitioning from Manager to Leader.
- We talked about the importance of relationships for strong leaders, coaching and developing new talent, cultivating conditions for team success, and expanding your network of contacts in a strategic way. I'd like to share with you a story of a client I recently worked with named Carl. He was a manager selected to participate in a leadership development course with a 360 assessment, a tool for gathering anonymous feedback from his colleagues and direct reports. Let's just say, after the 360 assessment, Carl got results he did not expect.
He had rated himself higher on the dimension of leading others than everyone else did, so he contacted me for help to find the disconnect. As I reviewed his assessment, I asked Carl, what do you think the term leading others means? He said, you know, delegating assignments, checking work for accuracy, keeping people in the loop, and providing performance feedback. I said, okay, all those are valid, but what do you think the impact of those actions are on your team? He said, well, they help the team stay accountable, informed, they help to reduce errors, and everybody knows where they stand.
Then I asked Carl, how do you think those actions make your team members feel? At first, Carl reminded me, well, I'm not sure it matters how they feel, it's my job to measure progress, it's a numbers game after all. It took some time, but Carl eventually saw his approach might be communicating that he only cared about his team's ability to produce, that managing transactions to him were more important than cultivating relationships.
Carl agreed that this approach might give that impression and it wasn't very inspiring. After a lot of discussion, Carl realized that he did want to manage his team in a way that was inspiring, in a way where everyone felt committed and engaged. But the problem was, he had no idea what type of incentive would work. That's when I told him, you've got to get to know your team on a deeper level. Ask them questions and then just listen.
What do they enjoy most about their jobs? What would they change? What do they want to do in the future, and do they have any skills that aren't being tapped? If you show them that you're sincerely interested in them as individuals, you'll build the trust and you'll get the performance you want from them. My top recommendation for Carl was to position himself as a coach. Instead of telling his team exactly what to do, he could guide them to find their own solutions, encourage them to innovate, give them a unique challenge and see what they come up with.
That would demonstrate that he trusted them and valued their skills. It was a stretch for Carl to think about sending his team off to explore new ways of doing things when there were deadlines to be met, but I assured him he'd figure out what they could handle and what they couldn't, and that giving them that freedom would demonstrate his level of trust and confidence. That would inspire them. Slowly, but surely, Carl began making these adjustments and he reported back to me, I can actually feel a shift in my team and they've seen a difference in me.
The more he worked to make a difference in the lives of his team members, the more he saw support for his own efforts. Of course, Carl was still a numbers guy, he needed hard proof, which he got 18 months later on the next 360 assessment.
- Looking and sounding like a leader
- Increasing your emotional intelligence
- Becoming a thought leader
- Expanding your strategic scope
- Viewing challenges with a fresh lens
- Improving your decision-making skills
- Cultivating conditions for team success
- Building meaningful connections