Thank you to all who have visited the blog so far this month! So many countries! I appreciate it.
Back in February, I challenged one of my teams with an initiative. I required each of them to share 1 idea or 1 area of improvement within our department and/or company. I created a OneNote folder where they would share these things every week. They had to include their name for accountability purposes.
Some took to the challenge immediately and some really great things are in motion today to bring their ideas to life. Some thought they really didn’t have any ideas. But through our 1-on-1 sessions when I got them thinking and talking, ideas flowed.
“But that’s a pretty small thing,” one team member told me after sharing an idea. And I reminded them I wasn’t looking for a cure for cancer. Just simple ideas that would help create less friction or would help others understand a necessary process better or that would create a better customer experience is what we were looking for. Small steps in the right direction compound to have a significant impact in the long run.
Do you know that your team has more to contribute? Do you know they have experiences that are extremely valuable and can be leveraged? Do you believe that ideas should come from all areas of your organization, not just the executive levels?
Give your team a challenge, encourage their participation, and watch them grow. You will see collaboration. You will see people stretching beyond their comfort zone. You will hear some pretty great ideas that you’ve never considered before.
And your team member, you, and your organization will become better as a result.
For over 30 years, I have been privileged to lead great teams in various organizations. Together, we have pushed ourselves to continually become better. We have held each other accountable even if it became uncomfortable. We worked to have a one-mind approach to our success.
Over the years, I have learned some things about leading teams.
I connected better with my teams when I got to know them better personally. I truly care about the people I serve. I have listened as they shared about their children. I have seen them worry before certain tests were going to happen that would determine long-term care for a child.
I have attended weddings, visited them in the hospital, delivered meals to their homes, and attended their funerals. Caring makes leaders vulnerable, but it is such an authentic way to connect with teams.
Team members want to be coached. They want to improve when they know they are valued. Coaching can pinpoint areas needing improvement as well as celebrating with them when they overcome an obstacle. Coaching means asking great, probing questions to get to the core of issues.
Team members do not like uncertainty. I’ve learned to be available via email, Skype, phone, or personal meetings. The team has not taken advantage of this. But they know I’m open to invest time with them in order to keep our communication lines open. I’ve learned so much from my teams by encouraging open communication.
And I have learned to model open communication.
My teams have accomplished great things over the years. They banded together to make what seemed to be impossible possible. They have reached out to those in need in the community in order to make someone else’s children have a dream Christmas. They’ve shattered expectations in sales and service initiatives.
And in my coaching sessions, team meetings, and on performance reviews I celebrate them. They love the retelling of their story of success.
I have been a promoter of the organizations I have served. I have liked working there. But I have loved my teams. Watching them grow and develop, advance in their careers, and triumph in personal trials has been a privilege for me.
What have you learned about teams from your experience?
I’m reading Soundtracks by Jon Acuff. What I read early this morning was this:
CURIOSITY BEATS CRITICISM.
When faced with another “annoying” question from someone, be curious. Ask them questions:
- How can I communicate this to them more effectively?
- What am I missing?
- What resources are they missing?
When you see work being done that is not up to standard, be curious.
- What does your team member think of the quality of their work?
- How clearly did you communicate your expectations on this particular project?
It seems that far too often we default to criticism. This leads to discouragement and frustration in your team members. And when that happens, the team will not perform with excellence.
Try being curious. Ask more questions.
Trust in you, the leader, will go up. When trust increases, work tends to get done more efficiently and effectively. Job satisfaction rises, too.
Curiosity beats criticism. Try it!
Are you looking for a new way to connect with others?
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Have you found yourself in a situation where you needed to get below the conversational surface with a team member but you end up floundering? How about a difficult conversation with your boss? Or a talk you’ve been dreading with a challenging team member?
I highly recommend John Maxwell’s book Good Leaders Ask Great Questions.
I have found this to be more of an ongoing resource than simply another book. I review it often. I use it often. It has helped me in many difficult conversations. It frames a positive environment for me and the other person to have a fruitful discussion. This resource helps move us forward.
John Maxwell is a master at giving us the right words to say at the right time. If you often feel stuck in coaching sessions, this book will free you. It will help you add value to the other person and create a more professional, positive working environment.
Order The Path to Promotion here.