Getting The Best Out Of Your People
Dec 21, 2010
This question on leadership style is a very common one. Is there a formula that works? When thinking about it, the first thing that occurred to me was that the question should first be turned around on its head. It is natural for a human to think ‘WIFM – What is In it For Me?’. The leader should feed to the WIFM to be able to get something back. When we turn the question around, the answers are not so difficult to see!
To get anything from anyone, the first thing a leader has to do is it give something valuable. ‘Give to Get’ is a powerful strategy. It is a win-win approach. So what can be possible given to people?
As a leader, it is advisable to openly admit ones own areas of weakness relevant to the context. Not everyone can be very strong in everything that is needed to be done. Leadership with a ‘know-it-all’ mindset does not work unless the leader is a real ‘know-it-all’ by sheer experience. Telling people what the leader knows and does not know in the given context creates an environment of transparency. Trust builds up slowly and eventually. Mutual trust is a foundational element of a good team. Contrary to popular fears, no leader has lost his/her position for being transparent. People eventually see the strengths and weaknesses in a leader much faster than the leader is willing to admit.
Listen well. Listen to the logic and emotions of the team members. The higher a leader climbs up the corporate ladder, the lesser he or she will know ground realities. What worked in an earlier similar situation may not work once again. Prescribing is a wrong strategy. Listening with an open mind, especially in fire fighting situations needs patience. People closer to the problem and dealing with it on a daily basis will know what will work and what will not work. It is important to understand that thinking
Once the listening part is complete, articulate the goal and provide an overall direction in the form of strategy
Once the direction is shared and goals agreed, it is time to collaborate. Once again, people who are closer to the ground are the best ones to come up with the tactics that will work. Co-create the execution plan and fine tune the strategy in a collaborative process.
The first enablement that you can provide your team is a tension free environment. Your insecurity should not bug the team. Secondly, your position has authority built in. Use that authority to enable your people to deliver. Move the organizational cog wheels to required level of synchronization with your muscle power. Talk to those tough customers and hold them back while your team moves each step. Understand the hurdles faced by your team and help them eliminate those hurdles.
Wherever possible bring your strengths to work for your team. Give a helping hand. Contribute actively to the progress
Be sure to program small wins in the path to the goal. Celebrate those wins. Recognize and reward the contributors
Be critical of those who are not aligned to the teams efforts. Give them sharp feedback. Typically feedback should focus on what is required to be done to get things to shape. Never point fingers at people. Never hesitate to point fingers at problems.