We expect our teams to be great. When they’re not, we have a tendency to push them to be better. What’s wrong with that concept? You can’t push a rope.
If you want your team to be better, you must first understand how they are right now. Take an honest inventory of your people – are they good, great, bad? Focus on the way they do their job, how they communicate with the team, their personal lives, and how they take direction. The only way to make someone better is to discover where they need to be better. Once again…
Focus on their needs by starting here:
- Be the Example – You as a leader must set the example of what it is to be better. Find areas that your team needs to focus on and be an example in those areas. If they’re struggling with communication, then over communicate the best you possibly can. Show them how they can communicate with others. Help them to understand where they are weak, but don’t make it a bad thing or negative. Instead, show them how they can be more successful when they communicate correctly.
- Set a Clear Direction – You have to be leading your team in a clear direction. If they can’t see it, they wont understand how to get there. Vision is all about showing somebody where they’re going to be, not a goal or a dream, but what it looks like on the other end. If you can guide and direct them toward the vision, they can see it, and they can fill in the gaps as well.
- Give Praise – People will repeat what they’re praised for. If you spend time finding them doing things right, they will continue to do what they were recognized for. If all you do is find them doing things wrong, they will become extremely gun-shy and not willing to put themselves out there. They won’t care about being better. The only thing they will care about is not getting their head chopped off.
- Lead with Dignity – You must treat people with dignity. Understand that these are people. They’re somebody’s kids just like your kids, or like you’re somebody’s child. They want to be treated with dignity. They want to be treated with respect. They don’t want to be yelled at or told that they’re idiots or incompetent. Instead, if you will spend your time building them up, then you’ll find they will be more likely to put their neck out and do things better. They will spend more time trying to be a better team member and person.
- Let Out the Rope – You’ve got to give them rope. No, not to hang themselves. You’ve got to let the rope out a little bit at a time as your team grows stronger. If you never let the rope out, you’re keeping them in the same spot they were before. As they become better, you have to allow them to be better.
Following these steps will lead to better team members. On top of that, ask questions. Ask how you can help them to be better. They might tell you something that you weren’t thinking about. You never know, your team member might lead you on how to lead them.