The pathway to becoming a better leader is not always clear. And it can change with the environment you are in or the team you work with. Most leaders are consistently striving to build a more effective team and inspire them through leadership. We know that leadership development plays a huge role in helping leaders achieve these goals. But sometimes, we need action we can take right now. We want to share five steps you can take right now to build a more effective team.
Your passion to go beyond and be better is all the fuel you need to get started. To inspire literally means… to excite, encourage, or breathe life into. Inspire comes from the Latin word inspirare, which means to breath or to blow in to.
1. Connect: Connecting with your team members is key to developing relationships. These relationships are key in getting the information and feedback you need. Invest time in regular connection by stopping by their office or cubicle, dropping a note in the mail, checking in through a phone call. Go beyond email or text, send a card or note in the mail. There is tremendous power in the handwritten note. Validation, encouragement and communicating that you care are connecting strategies that have rippling benefits for the recipient, their team and organization.
2. Listen and Learn: Listening is key to inspiring, leading and transformation. It is the key to connecting with people and unlocking what you do not know…but need to know. It is critical that you approach listening without an agenda. Your focus is to connect with the individual, lean in to listen with the intent to learn, see, feel and understand through the person’s experience and reality.
Keys to powerful listening:
Give complete and focused attention to the discussion.
Be patient. Do not interrupt.
Confirm understanding by rephrasing important discussion issues.
Remove distractions (turn your phone off, sit strategically to avoid walk by distractions, etc).
Look at the person speaking… be sure your face is relaxed (be careful about looking too intense, as this could shut the person down).
Avoid thinking through a response until the person is done speaking. This will allow you to really hear what the person is saying.
In a Listen to Learn conversation your focus is to “Listen… with the intent to Learn”. You are seeking to understand, through the speaker’s lens…gauging current reality, as well as needed change.
Have a Listen to Learn conversation with each member of your team. Recommended questions include:
What is working?
What is not working?
What is the greatest challenge facing the team now?
What is the greatest challenge you are facing?
Do you feel supported, why or why not?
Do you have solution ideas for what is not working and/or the challenges you have noted?
The Listen to Learn conversations can be done in one-on-one conversations or small group; in-person or over zoom, google meet, etc.
3. Analyze: Examine the responses from your Listen to Learn conversations. As you analyze the responses, look for similar issues. Synthesize the data into topics or issues that are similar in nature. Use your experience and knowledge to prioritize the list of concerns (e.g. what’s not working, challenges, etc.). Be sure to include a summary of “what is working.” Organize the responses and prepare to share the information with your team.
4. Share: Share the information gathered in a meaningful way. This step is critical. You will need to prepare and present the information and the next steps in a meaningful, simplified way to your team. Otherwise, the next time you seek their input they may be less cooperative.
Thank your team for their input. The information received is essential for the entire team to continue improving.
A recommended format is to create a document with responses noted in order of priority. The introductory portion of the tool should capture the process completed in steps 2-3. Include the top three priority concerns or issues that will be the focus of follow-up action. Other issues, topics or concerns that were shared will be included toward the end of the document, with the intent to address at a future date.
Download your free Feedback Priority template.
5. Lead: Involve your people in creating the solutions. You have invested time to listen, learn and synthesize data. Your leadership in creating and sharing a priority list communicates to your team the focus areas, as well as your commitment to involve them in identifying solutions and developing action plans.
This 5-step cycle is designed to be a continuous cycle (not a one and done).
These 5 steps create synergy… momentum… the fuel that leads to transformation. As you invest your passion and energy in this 5-step process continuously, the return on your investment will be off the charts. You will see positive results in your relationships, trust, impact on culture and climate, and leader credibility as you model courage and vulnerability through seeking feedback, garnering input, taking action and involving your people in creating the solutions.
You will also inspire a deeper commitment from team members; shifting those in compliance over to commitment as they experience the process. Through the process you are validating your team members and adding value to individuals through connecting, listening, and involving. The message you are communicating is: You matter, your ideas and contributions make a difference. You are literally breathing belief into them… inspiring them to go beyond to become more and deliver even greater results.
We often believe that we do not have time to invest in meeting one-on-one, in small groups or another zoom meeting. This is untrue. Leaders who make connecting to listen and learn a priority, keep their finger on the pulse of the team, its culture, climate, and productivity.
Curious about where all of this great information comes from?