Establish yourself as a leader-coach. Know when to instruct and correct versus coach for maximum results.
As a technical professional, you achieve success by leveraging your expertise in a specific area. As a manager, the formula becomes more complex. Just because we have talented team members and a good product or service, doesn't mean we are guaranteed a win. The conditions have to be right for success to take root. We need to provide the right catalyst and cultivate the right conditions if we want our teams to thrive. Our rewards if we do it well? Stronger collaboration, better performance, and optimal results.
Let's look at six ways you can cultivate conditions for team success within your organization. First, communicate openly with your team members, individually and as a group. And remain consistent with your words, tone and body language. Make sure you're sending the same message verbally and non-verbally, one that aligns with your core values. Stay fully present in your conversations, to demonstrate your dedication to listening and understanding. While managers should be authentic, they should also have a steady demeanor, one that provides stability, despite the situation.
Yes, we all have bad days. The difference is good managers know how to make professionalism their default mode. Be honest and transparent as you interact with your team. Explain why decisions were made or strategies were changed. By sharing more context, you'll develop trust and respect. And people are more likely to feel committed to support your goals, if they understand why you want them to do something. Second, encourage and inspire your team members in a way that also moves them toward productive action.
That can sometimes be a challenge, particularly if you happen to be more of an introvert, not that you should suddenly become loud and over-animated. Be who you are, but learn to step out of your comfort zone a bit, just enough to add your own brand of energy and enthusiasm that will give your team the momentum they need. Third, work to understand what motivates each individual team member. Some people need direct praise, others, quiet reinforcement, or confirmation by getting more responsibility.
Each one has a different reward language. Become fluent in what those are. Keep in mind that most everyone sees flexibility as a big motivator. The option to work at home, reduce their hours, avoid the traffic with flex time. Your team members will work harder than ever for you when you can focus on what they achieve, rather than where or how that happens. Fourth, encourage risk-taking. Give your team the freedom to pursue new strategies and solutions, even if some of those might fail.
When you provide room for creative thinking, even failure, your team is much more likely to identify a process that saves time or money, an approach that meets customer needs in a more targeted way, or a product refinement that results in a competitive advantage. This isn't always easy. And early on in your management career, it may not be an optimal approach. But keep in mind, an environment that allows for failure is a fertile ground for development. Fifth, proactively seek out divergent thinking to infuse fresh perspectives for your team.
Hire and support people who don't always share your team's opinions or skill sets. Let them challenge your team's approach to stretch their thinking and test their rationale. Getting views from a completely different angle might be just the spark your team needs to innovate on a broader scale. Finally, set the example for your team. Lead with passion and model the behaviors you want them to emulate. Be prepared, follow through on your commitments. Work to be comfortable speaking in front of them, landing on a tone that balances authority with humility.
And when the team faces adversity, be the one who can gently remind them that their work makes a difference, that you appreciate their contributions, value their skills and have confidence in the outcome of the collective team effort. By cultivating the conditions that allow teams to grow and thrive, you'll be positioning yourself as a respected manager, who knows exactly how to harvest success at a higher level.
- Moving from technical skills to relational skills
- Becoming more self-aware
- Communicating with greater impact
- Moving from individual to team results
- Broadening your perspective
- Building productive and meaningful relationships