Want to be a better leader? It takes action as well as education. We are going to talk about taking action. There is an endless supply of amazing information that you can get your hands on to equip you to be a better leader. You should be spending time weekly if not daily immersed in articles, podcasts, books, and following thought leaders on social media. But if you really want to get better and make a difference for others, you have to put what you learn into practice. When you are learning it is about bettering you. When you lead others it is about bettering them. Hard fact about truly being a leader: nothing is about you, it’s all about them.
Over the course of my career I have had the opportunity to lead teams in times of chaos. A lot of the times, the chaos was negative but there have been a few times when the chaos was created due to positive situations. There are a lot of lessons and opportunities in the negative times and I am sure that I will share those in the future. But for this example, I want to share a time of positive Chaos.
The company that I work for is growing like crazy. I am talking about big boom explosive growth. With that, comes a lot of work to establish systems that never existed before, new and exciting opportunities to explore, new relationships to build, and a lot of new team members joining us. It is easy as a leader to get caught up in the chaos. I found myself really focused on me. How was I going to get everything done? How can I find opportunities to shine? I was focused on the things that were causing frustration for me as well as things that I was really excited about.
Then it dawned on me……
How was my team doing with all this? Yes, my career is important but my personal mission has always been to lead others to success and make a difference in the lives of others. If I am focused only on me, I can’t fulfill my personal mission.
I knew I needed to take action so I created a list of things that I could do THAT DAY to refocus my energy on my team. You know what? After I executed the things on this list, my team's morale was so much higher. We were all more productive and less stressed.
Take the challenge and try the things on this list. Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about them.
Have a conversation with each member of your team.
If you have a large team, this might not be possible. If that is the case, start with your key team members and the main influencers. During that meeting, these are the questions to ask:
- How is life?
- We don’t live in a bubble. Outside influences come into the workplace. When chaos happens, we often forget that our the people we lead are people first and foremost.
- What are you working on?
- You might be surprised what they feel like they should be doing vs what you feel like they should be doing. This is a great questions to continually be asking so that you both are always clear with priorities.
- What things are stressing you out? or What things do you wish were different in your role?
- Be careful in how you ask this. Really practice positive body language and context. Many people don’t want to come across as negative so you may need to pry.
- What things are you excited about working on?
- Don’t allow yourself to judge. What they are excited about might not be a priority or even in their job description. If that is the case, find out what it is is about that project that they are excited about. Maybe there is something to build on there.
- What is the thing that you are most proud of?
- It is human nature for us to focus on what is not working vs what is working. This is a great opportunity to find out about the successes that they are doing. More importantly, the successes that mean something to them.
- If you could drop one thing from your plate right now, what would it be and why?
- Write down everything that they say. This is now an actionable list to work with.
Based on the conversation that you had, how can you empower them to spend more time and energy doing the things that they are excited about and proud of? Coach them to find solutions on the not so great stuff.
Take action on what they shared.
Are there things that you can do to alleviate stress or delegate things that they will be passionate about?
Find a way to recognize them publicly for the positive work they are doing.
For me the fastest, easiest and most impactful way of doing this is to talk highly about something they did in front of others. Maybe in a meeting, on a conference call, or even in a casual conversation. Nothing formal or pre planned. Make sure it is specific and authentic. Really though, be specific, specific, specific. General “they are great” type statements are meaningless and can cause negative feelings for people. Be specific. (Over kill I know, but it is super important)
Say thank you.
Let them know how much your appreciate them for doing _____. Again, be specific on what you are appreciative for. This is great if it is written. They will read it more than once and might even show others. It’s not about you, it’s about them and how they feel. I love sending a text at the end of the day or week.
Try these things out! I would love to hear the results that you get!
Do you wish that more people within your organization took the time to do this with their team (yes, that can include your boss)?
Share this on social media! You never know who might take these 5 actions too.