Great Leaders Know How To Rally Their Team
Pretty soon it will be a new year and a new quarter for businesses…change will happen. It’s inevitable. Especially following these critical times of year – leaders face enormous employee & customer scrutiny when their companies are struggling, distressed, or missing targets. Most leaders measure their success in bottom line contribution, team attrition, time to fill, productivity metrics…and when those slip, everyone sees it happening, the yentas talk about it [endlessly], the information is accessible on social media and through company reporting.
The best leaders confront those challenges proactively, with a plan, and an energizing communication style that can inspire action. When the heat is on, and pressure intense, they rally their troops through honest and courageous dialog, support and accessibility, and eliminating processes that don’t add value to the business, efficiency to the day-to-day operations, or the effectiveness of the team members. In the next couple weeks | months companies will evaluate their performance, the performance of their leaders and create new plans and strategies to elevate organizational performance & results.
Insist On Radical Candor & Honest Dialogs
As a leader, what you say and how you say it absolutely matters – especially when your company is facing challenge, chaos, and/or crisis. It is the leaders job is to model what is right and good and galvanize the talent around you. If you don’t, you will shut your employees down and productivity will come to a screeching halt. You will then begin to hear people assign blame to others and excuse their lack of results.
- Align & Anchor The Team On The Objectives: Focus people on what they need to do differently or more of | less of and why this is critical. Explain the changes you want to see, the time frame you need to see them, and lead people into thinking about how their contributions are absolutely imperative to the team’s success. Re-introduce the organization’s mission statement and values into these dialogs to support strong decision making and to keep the team’s focus on the company targets and working collaboratively to achieve the objective(s).
- Model Passionate Truth-Telling: Insist upon and model authentic truth-telling. Encourage your team members to speak frankly without excuses or assigning blame to others. Use clear, direct, and objectively common language so that you are easily understood and keep your emotions in check. Your leadership behaviors are mimicked by your team so it is extremely important that you communicate without fear or frustration in your voice.
- Be Forward-Thinking: Allow your team to vent their frustrations but do not allow them to dwell in the past for long. Explain that you want your team to be innovative and communicate with committed purpose when surfacing ideas and solutions to the obstacles they are facing. Speak collaboratively – even the roughest idea can become a very viable solution when great minds discuss it!
The benefit of this [authenticity], as a retail leader, is that everyone our team, every one of our coworkers, and everyone we interact with knows that we are a passionate and committed truth-teller, even when we have to carefully and thoughtfully communicate that truth. That makes us trustworthy as a coach, a mentor, and a leader in our industry and this, ultimately, defines our professional brand.“ – Quote By Moi
Rallying Your Team Around A New Strategy or Initiative
Research suggests that only 30% of organizations and team’s execute their strategies effectively, meaning that 70% of projects are NOT executed well. Here are some reasons why…
- 95% of leaders/managers within an organization say they do not fully understand what the strategy is [yikes!];
- 75% of leaders/managers do not have any stake in the success of the strategy [yikes, again!];
- 85% of leaders spend less than one hour a month talking about strategy.
The gap between strategy and execution remains a gigantic challenge in most organizations largely due to the fact that these strategies are rolled out without a dialog behind the meaning and purpose of the initiative [how it fits in with the vision of the organization]. Asking the questions so you can bring the answers to your team will support a higher-understanding and buy-in that will serve as motivation for your team to take action.
- Communicate The Strategy Often, Early, & Simply: Leaders can get so excited by and invested in their strategic agenda, they fail to realize that what is extremely clear to them can be potentially blurry to others. Without abundantly clear & consistent communication about where you are going and why it is important, team members may default to behaviors that inadvertently undermine the strategic initiative. In an evolving and – sometimes – uncertain world, transparency is not a luxury, but an absolute necessity.
- Embrace Communication With Other Leaders Who Have a Stake In The Strategy: In some industries, more than others, senior & executive “management” teams have worked hard to homogenize their hires into “sheeple” so that they can bark out direction and send the masses marching. This doesn’t work – generally, nor does it make for successful organizations. Successful organizations have evolved with the times and embraced the diverse nature of talent, the generational shifts in the workforce and have moved from hierarchical structures with clear lines of authority to horizontal ones where decision-making is more inclusive. Horizontally lead organizations should especially ensure they are including everyone with a significant stake in the outcome. Global communication may slow things down at first, but you will quickly make up that time by having strong communication, implementation, and execution. Committed strategic leaders learn how to effectively and efficiently navigate their way through the jungle and come out the other side with strong alignment with their colleagues.
- Recognize & Reward Those Who Take Ownership & Action: Strategic change can truly only be achieved when individuals own their portion of the strategy and the solutions and work hard to achieve collaborative success. Far too many people lack the the same level of urgency or ownership of initiatives, even those directly assigned to them. This commonly occurs when leaders fail to clarify their change agenda, connect the strategy to the mission | purpose | objective of the organization, and some ineffective leaders promote debate or endless dialog around the issues which stalls action. Make sure your colleagues have truly signed on to the same plan that you think all agreed to execute and then ensure that everyone has a bias toward the action around their portion of the project. When they show you they are taking thoughtful action in their roles – recognize, appreciate, and reward them!
Be The Leader People Want To Work With
- BE ACCESSIBLE: Never, ever, ever hide from your team! If you are always hard to find, too busy, or unavailable behind closed doors, no leadership or mentoring relationship can work effectively and your team will lose trust in your ability to support them in their current roles and on their career journey. When you are an involved and invested leader your team will trust you, communicate with you, and ask questions that will help clarify any challenges they are facing.
- LISTEN TO THEM: You rarely learn anything by talking. Practice active listening and respond with a appropriate support, guidance, or an anecdotal story to bring context, depending on the style and experience of the team member. They will feel an elevated level of comfort surfacing concerns AND solutions when they know you genuinely care about how and what they are doing.
- PROVIDE IN-THE-MOMENT GUIDANCE & FEEDBACK: Respectfully and honestly addressing issues/challenges with your team can support their performance improvement and productivity. Global research from Edelman’s Trust Barometer reveals that despite integrity being the most desired leadership quality, only about 25% of people think their bosses actually have it. It is THE most desired leadership quality so pluck up the courage needed and speak to your team members like the adults with high-potential they are. They will thank you [and respect you] for it in the long run. Effective leaders recognize that if we want to support the growth and career path of our colleagues we have to commit to delivering coaching in it’s rawest form – objective and real truth.
- HOLD EVERYONE ACCOUNTABLE: Your most valuable team members don’t want to work any other way. Every member of your team should be contributing at the same level and in the same time frame as your best team member. Every single person on your team needs to be held accountable for delivering solutions, not creating problems, and empowered to communicate and partner with, and inspire their colleagues to get behind their recommendations for success. Everyone learns from mistakes and failure – so create a safe space for your team to make some but – set and insist upon the expectation that they pull themselves up and try again using a new approach to achieve success.