Tag Archives: Developing Others

Responsibility – Do You Pass it On?

Teamwork passing the batonEach of us has responsibilities, to ourselves, to our families, to our jobs, and so on.  It’s one of those facts of adulthood.  With freedom comes responsibility.  The real question is how well we handle all of those responsibilities.  We also have choices on what we take on as a responsibility.  This is very true as leaders.

When we assume a leadership role we are being placed in a role with responsibilities.  We are accountable for our team’s performance as well as our own.  We become responsible for guiding, directing, and correcting the behavior of those around us.  How much we take on ourselves will often determine how well we perform as a leader.

The challenge of being responsible for the performance of others is how much of their success or failure do we really own?  When is their failure ours and when is it theirs?  What is our responsibility as a leader for those who are on our team?  Here are 6 questions to help determine when it’s your responsibility and when it’s not:

  1. Have you given clear direction, and checked for understanding, on what is required?
  2. Have you provided the training and coaching needed for success?
  3. Have you given feedback on their performance, including corrective ideas?
  4. Are you letting them act independently and not micro-managing?
  5. Are you available to them for support and guidance?
  6. Have you created an environment where people can innovate, act on ideas and questioning is welcomed?

If you answer yes to all of these questions then you are doing all that you can reasonably do to help your team succeed.  Some team members will flourish and grow in this kind of environment.  There will be some who aren’t well suited for the tasks at hand.  It could be that they just don’t have the abilities or capacity to meet the demands of the position.  They may not have the right attitude for the role they are in, or they may not want to grow in the direction needed. 

When someone can’t or won’t gain the skills needed to do the job assigned and you as their leader has worked with them to help them get there it becomes your responsibility to help them move to the right position.  This may mean leaving your organization or it may mean transferring to another area.  Your responsibility is to the entire team and the organization so you have to make sure the right people are in place to accomplish your goals and mission.

Responsibility is part of our lives, at home and at work.  When we take our responsibilities seriously and act on them with integrity and compassion we help our teams become the best they can be, together and individually.  Remember while we as leaders are responsible for the team’s results each person is also responsible for their performance and their results.  We must coach, train and guide them towards success but we have to let them succeed or fail on their own.  If they can’t succeed in the given role we must be responsible to the team and make a change.

You have to pass on the responsibility for personal performance to each person on your team.  Along with that you must share the responsibility for the overall team’s success with each member.  Build trust and collaboration by passing the baton of responsibility to your team.  Get them engaged in their individual and joint success.  Everyone wins then. 

Have you ever had issues related to passing responsibility to others?  Share your experiences below in the comments.

 

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If you would like help defining your responsibilities or learning to build your team’s abilities contact us at carol@delta-group-llc.com

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Do You Want More From Your Team?

Team MtgAs the year winds down leaders and project managers review the performance and progress of their teams.  If you find that your team is falling short of where you would like or need them to be it’s time to take action to correct it.  By making those plans now you can set the stage for a more successful 2014.

What can you do to get things moving in the right direction?  Here are 4 steps you can take now to build a plan for success.

  1. Assess & analyze:  Where is the root cause of the underperformance?  Is it lack of ability?  Lack of capacity?   Lack of commitment?  Look at the team overall, including yourself and look at each individual.  You may find that some members lack the needed skills while other lacks a commitment to the project/team which is leading to an overall lack of capacity to get everything done.
  2. Develop:  Once you know the cause of the underperformance you can create development plans to address the gaps.  If a particular person doesn’t have the skills they need create a development plan to help them build those skills quickly.    Sometimes a team member needs to develop the ability to do more work by learning time management skills or working more efficiently.  Look at what can be developed in each person to benefit the team.
  3. Trim the deadwood:  After you look at each person you may find that there is someone on the team who just is not the right fit.  They may not have the aptitude for the work to be done or they may not be able to develop the needed skills.  Cut them from the team to make room for someone who can help the team achieve more. 
  4. Encourage:  It’s most likely the team knows they are not hitting their marks and that is very discouraging to people.  Help them see that they can reach the needed performance and that you believe in them.  Taking the first three steps will help them see your commitment to their success and will help them become committed to improving.  A positive outlook will create a positive environment where people want to do better.  Spell out the facts of the situation and build hope for a better tomorrow.

This will take some time to do well and yet it can yield amazing performance improvements that it’s worth the time.  Underperforming teams can be turned around with time and attention.  You need to figure out what can be done to meet your targets and how you can help the team get there.

While looking at the team’s performance you have to take a hard look at your performance relative to the team.  Are you being the leader they need to achieve the project or team goals?  Ask them how you can better support them and then listen to their feedback.  Some of it may be hard to hear so just absorb the information.  Take the time to reflect on what you are told and implement the changes that will help you grow and help your team succeed.  Your willingness to change will help set the stage for them to change as well.  If you want them to change their performance you need to go first, so model what you want from them.  They will like you for it and will respond well.

Learn to be a coach that helps their team achieve more and accomplish great things.  As you develop or refine your coaching skills you will grow as a leader and become capable of leading teams in any situation.  You can become a better coach by working with a coach to grow your skills and abilities.  Again, you will be modeling the behavior you want from your team and developing yourself at the same time.  Win-Win

To get more from your team you must be aware of the gaps and be willing to help close those gaps by developing the team’s skills or getting the right people on the team.  It’s up to you as a leader or project manager to make sure your team is set to deliver as required.

If you are curios on how a coach could help you click here for information on a special offer designed to help you get more out of your team in 2014.  We can help you do more personally and help you prepare your team for a fantastic year.

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Give Directions not Directives

Man's hand pointing on street mapWhen working with your team do you give them direction or directives?  There is a marked difference between these two that will show up in the results of your team.  Understanding that difference and knowing how to move towards direction will help you be more successful as a leader.

If you are giving directives you have taken on the role of dictator.  This is where you tell people what they need to do to accomplish the team goals and objectives.  Dictators take away creativity and initiative from their followers.  People learn to blindly go where they are told to go.  They will do just what they are told and nothing more.  Engagement will drop to all-time lows, the team stagnates, and creativity stops.  This is a path to obsolescence.

When you give directions to your team you are enabling them to find the best way forward.  This creates an environment that fosters creativity, confidence and high engagement.  People are excited to work for a boss who believes they can reach the goals without being micro-managed.  In team meetings more and better ideas will be brought to the table resulting in new and more innovative solutions.  The team will be more collaborative and will work together to get things done because they all know where they are going.

A benefit of setting direction for the team and letting them achieve the goals independently is that you will have more time to get your own work done.  When you dictate every step each person takes, you are doing their job along with yours.  There will not be enough hours in the day to get it all done.  Free up your time by letting others solve their own problems.

To make this work you must:

  • Set clear goals:  Let people know what they need to accomplish and where the team is headed.  Show how their goals align with the department and organization goals.  Make sure everyone is clear on what is needed.
  • Invite ideas:  Be open to the ideas and solutions your team bring to the table.  Ask people what they would do to solve a problem or get around an obstacle. 
  • Trust your team:  As the team shows you that they can come up with solutions to problems let them act on their own ideas.  Give them the freedom to make things happen without you when appropriate.  Show them you trust their abilities.
  • Be a sounding board:  Make sure you are available to your team to work out their ideas and find the best solutions.  They will still need a sounding board to make sure they cover all the bases.  As they gain experience they will need less guidance.
  • Have their backs:  Your team needs you to be a safety net for them.  Help them make good decisions and then have their backs if something goes wrong.  That demonstrates your trust in them more than anything else.

Moving towards a leadership style that focuses on setting direction for the team as opposed to dictating actions will create an environment of creativity and growth.  Your team will be more productive, more effective and they will grow beyond their current roles.  There may be some who never manage to act independently so they may need a different role or they may need to move elsewhere. As a leader part of your job is to nurture new leaders.  This is a great way to start identifying the future leaders.

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Working with the Next Generation of Leaders

Business woman leading a teamLeaders have an obligation to prepare the next generation of leaders.  This becomes challenging because generational biases can get in the way of that development.  As a leader you must work to see past the differences to build upon similarities and strengths of the emerging leaders. 

The next generation of leaders will be the Millennials.  As Baby Boomers retire at record rates there are not enough Gen X to fill all the voids left by the Boomers.  This means the Millennials will be stepping into leadership roles even sooner than their predecessors.

As you start working to prepare Millennials for leadership roles there are several questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. What are the strengths of the person I am working with?
  2. What experiences do they need to have to be ready to lead?
  3. Am I making assumptions about their skills based on a generational bias?
  4. What can I learn from them?
  5. How can I help this person grow into a successful leader?
  6. Have I focused on generational stereotypes instead of on the person?

These questions will help identify the areas where you might be getting in the way of the development of the next generation of leaders.  This new generation of leaders has so much to offer and so much to learn.  It is up to the current leaders to help them do both.

Some of the value that Millennials bring to an organization is seen in the following areas:

  • Technology utilization:  They are wired and see technology as a fact of life and work so get their input on how it can serve the organization’s needs.
  • Collaboration and connecting:  They have been raised to work in teams and find it very natural to do so.  Also, they connect with others via technology much faster.
  • Inclusion:  Often they see value for the team from a much wider variety of people so they welcome the contributions of each member.
  • Desire to make a difference:  One of the great things about Millennials is that they are interested in making a difference and being part of something bigger than themselves.

Tapping into these strengths will help Millennials feel valued as the next generation of leaders.

How are you developing and working with the next generation of leaders?

To gain more insights about working with the next generation of leaders check out the Lead With Giants tweetchat on Monday Nov 4th at 7:00pm EST (#leadwithgiants).

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Leadership Seasons

White Birch in Front of Maple TreesAs I welcome the fall weather to the upper Midwest it strikes me that there are seasons to leadership as well.  Each year the world goes through a series of phases reflected in spring, summer, fall and winter.  As leaders we go through similar phases, over our career and even within a year.

The phases we encounter on a regular basis are:

Beginnings:  This may be a new project, a new position or a new team member.  In any of these situations the leader must help nurture the new growth in people and in them.  This phase requires more time and attention because it is important to set the proper tone from the start.

Growth:  During this busy stage, the team has come together and things are starting to roll.  During this phase it is important for the leader to keep tabs on what is going on.  Making sure people are focused on the right things, learning and developing their skills, and getting results.  High energy is needed to keep everything moving forward properly and each person is growing successfully.

Maturity:  This phase is best represented by high performance and well established teams.  People are growing into their potential and things are going well.  At this point leaders become more of a guide to help keep people on track.  For the leader things can actually become quieter and easier as the team acts more independently.  Now is a time to enjoy the rewards of developing others.

Renewal:  There is a phase in the leadership cycle where the leader has an opportunity to take a break and recharge.  This is a really important phase to recharge and regroup before a new beginning.  Possibly this is handled with a vacation where the leader gets away from it all to recharge their energy.

Each season has a purpose in the life cycle of leadership.  We would do well to remember that each phase is normal and a natural part of a leader’s growth.  Take the time to recognize which phase you are in.  Adapt your leadership approach to suit the particular phase and take advantage of the opportunities that each offer.

There is a reason and a time for every phase so focus on how the phase you are in right now will help you grow.  Look at the needs of your team and give them the leader they need for the phase they are currently in.

How do you celebrate the various leadership seasons?

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Do You Unlock Potential in Others?

Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.
Bill Bradley

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The greatest gift I ever received at work was nothing flashy or even something I could display.  I was given the gift of development.  I had a boss who believed in me and felt I could move up in our organization with some fine tuning of my skills.  Craig pushed and prodded me to grow and learn.  He gave me “exposure” and “developmental opportunities”.  This typically meant I was going to be uncomfortable and in things over my head.  There was one year where my comfort zone was so far away I forgot what it looked like.

While I hated the situations I was in on a fairly regular basis I have to admit I would not be the person and leader that I am today without those experiences.  At times I think Craig saw something in me that no one else saw.  I know I wasn’t convinced in what he was telling me was possible.  When I went to work in his area I knew I wanted to do something different and something more than what I’d been doing the previous 9 years.  I honestly didn’t have a clear vision of where I wanted to go, it was more a case of knowing where I didn’t want to be.  I learned more from working in his area in 4 years than I think I did before or since.

It was with huge mixed emotions that I left that organization to move to another part of the country.  However, the confidence and growth I experience in those last 4 years gave me the courage to change careers and pursue new passions.  What I learned about myself and leading others during that time created the momentum I needed to take a chance and go down a different path.  It’s been a wonderful journey that is still unfolding.

I am so fortunate to have had Craig as a boss at a time when I needed someone to believe in me and then push me towards my potential.  Even when I was kicking and screaming.  He showed me my potential and urged me to reach for it.  He also showed me the power and impact that leaders can have when they take the time to unlock the potential in others.

As leaders when make an impact each and everyday on those around us.  It’s our choice whether it’s a positive one or not.  Helping your followers unlock their potential is the greatest gift you can give them and give to your organization.  Take the time to help someone grow and learn.  You will be amazed at what can happen when you release their potential.  It might just start a chain reaction of growth in your organization.

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The Best of Lead With Giants June 2013

It’s my pleasure to once again share with you the best blog posts from the Lead With Giants Community. I’m honored to have been included in this list.

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This month’s Best of Lead With Giants is being hosted by Dan Forbes on his blog LeadWithGiants.com .  Jump on over there now to see the best leadership blog posts published this month from the Lead With Giants Community.

Here’s the link:
The Best of Lead With Giants

Enjoy the great articles here!

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When You Are Grateful Do You Show It?

Thank you noteThis past weekend was Memorial Day here in the US which is a time for our country to stop and say thank you to all of our military, past and present.  It’s a wonderful way of acknowledging the gift of service these men and women give to the rest of us.  We also have many other, less formal, days of recognition throughout the year like boss’s day, admin assistant day, grandparent’s day, etc.  Why limit our thanks to a handful of days a year?

This past Saturday my son’s scout troop place small flags on the graves of veterans in two of the local cemeteries under the direction of a gentleman from the American Legion.  As the boys finished up he thanked them for their help in recognizing our veterans.  Before we left my son went over to him and thanked him for his service to our country.  The look of surprise and appreciation in his eyes was worth the moment it took to nudge my son into action.  To have a teenager go out of his way to say thanks obviously meant a lot to him.  This happened during a time when, as a country, we go out of our way to say thank you to the military members.  It reminded me that sometimes the small gestures mean more than grand events.

As leaders we should be looking for ways to appreciate the people around us.  Saying thanks for a good job, thanking someone for their extra effort, congratulations on a project well executed, complimenting someone on a good idea, recognizing that a person stepped up to solve a problem, the list is endless.  Often our organizations have formal methods for rewarding and recognizing people.  While these are great and needed, the simple human contact of personally looking someone in the eye and saying “Thank You” means more to them.  I still have a hand written thank you note a senior manager wrote to me after a project I worked on over 15 years ago.  It made me feel good to receive that acknowledgement of my contribution.

Studies show that people will do the things that are recognized.  If all we notice and comment on in our daily interactions are mistakes, problems, and challenges then we will get more mistakes, problems and challenges.  If we spend time recognizing the often quiet work well done, problems solved without help, challenges met then we will get more work well done, problems solved and challenges met.  We get what we focus on most.  This is also the time for a personal touch, not an electronic one.  If possible thank the person face-to-face.  It doesn’t have to be in front of a group or a big production, just stop focus on them and share your appreciation.  If you are dealing with people who work remotely from you, make the phone call and only discuss your appreciation.

Also, make sure to do this as close to the time the event occurred as you can.  This amplifies the meaning of the thanks.  It is possible that you will not learn of it for a while, that’s okay as long as you jump on the chance to recognize the behavior.  You can say “I just heard about what you did … Thank you.”  It will still carry enormous power.

Simple acts of gratitude will earn loyalty from your team.  They will know that you appreciate them and they will respond in kind.  Take the time to recognize the good in your team.  As well, look for ways to say thanks to your boss and your peers.  All of us could use a kind word, and the further up the ladder you go the less often you hear them.  Go first and show your gratitude.

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The Best of Lead With Giants May 2013

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to a wonderful community of leaders and the best of their blog posts. I’m honored to have been included in this list.

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This month’s Best of Lead With Giants is being hosted by Dan Forbes on his blog LeadWithGiants.com .  Jump on over there now to see the best leadership blog posts published this month from the Lead With Giants Community. 

Here’s the link:
The Best of Lead With Giants

Enjoy the great articles here!

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Are You Interested or Interesting?

ListeningWhen you are interacting with others what is your mind set?  Are you looking for their reaction to you or are you looking to learn more about them?  The first approach is egocentric and means you are more concerned about being interesting.  The second approach is focused on others and means you are more concerned about what the other person has to say.  If you think about past experiences, when someone listened to you it left you feeling much better than if they spent the time talking about themselves.

Truly connecting with people means that you must be concerned with what is going for them, and interested in what they have to say.  It’s a two way street.  You hear them and they hear you.  If one of you is doing all the talking then there is no real connection going on.

This issue can show up during an introduction or during an interaction with someone you know already.  If you are a boss and are meeting one-on-one with an employee are you doing the talking or are you listening?  It’s important to listen more than you talk when you are engaging with someone.  It gives them a sense that you value what they have to say which leads to them feeling valued.  Even if you are giving feedback or direction it’s important to take the time to listen to their perspective on what you shared.

Additionally as a leader you need to be interested in what is important to your team.  This means that you have to take the time to listen to their concerns and issues.  If you are genuinely interested in what is going on with others, they will feel respected and trusted.  If you are consistent in this approach people will trust you to be there for them.  You have shown that their interests matter to you.

You don’t have to have all the solutions to their problems, in fact its better if you help them find their own solutions.  One of the best bosses I ever had would let me vent about a situation and then ask me how I was going to handle it.  He rarely offered solutions, unless I specifically asked and even then he would find a way to make me figure it out.  During that same time I had regular contact with another manager who when you shared your problems he would jump in to solve them.  While I was frustrated with my boss on occasion because I would have loved some guidance, I actually felt more empowered and valued in that relationship.  I liked the other manager a lot, and yet at times I felt like he didn’t trust me or my team to find the solution.  While I liked both of them, I respected and trusted my boss more because my success seemed to matter more to him.

The amazing thing about being genuinely interested in others is that they will respond by caring about your interests.  Putting others first shows that you are willing to help them reach their goals and objectives.  In turn they will want to know what matters to you and will help you with your goals and objectives.  Focus your efforts in being interested in others instead of being interesting to others.  You will get more trust, respect and assistance in return.

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