Thursday, February 1, 2018

Leadership in Action

By Linda Sydow

When building high performing teams, it is important to include the members of the team in the building process. If they do not feel included, the results will be less than stellar. They will either leave the team, or become disconnected, and distant. 

When I work on projects, I select individuals to work as specialists to assist in the success of the project. They are free to open thoughts, offer ideas, and take us to new doorways of thinking. Unless you’re in the trenches doing the work they do, many of their insights will be hidden from you. 

Leaders tend to fail when we do not involve employees. They need to know that there is a value in what they are doing, and they need input into they work we are doing, particularly if it impacts the work they will do. If you don’t invest any time listening to your staff, it is likely they will not listen to you, or do the work at the level that is needed to be successful. As leaders, we are the example they will follow. 

Your team is very observant. They hear what you say, but they focus on what you do! Therefore, it is imperative for leaders to gives their team members the tools required to be successful. One such tool is autonomy. Allow your staff to be experts in their role. Take their advice, solicit their feedback, and include them in your decision making process. 

Let me give an example of the damage a disconnected leader can cause. I worked with someone who was extremely frustrated with the lack of leadership they received. They became disconnected from the team, and mistrust of the manager soon set in. This person became ineffective. This was a very intelligent employee, who had a lot to offer, but was not receiving the personalized leadership and coaching by the team manager. I was asked to step in and lead the team for a short time while. 

I found the team to be distant, lacking confidence, and unaware how important their role was to the overall success of the company. They were afraid! 

I spent time with them as a group and individually. We discussed business processes, career goals, and at times, the personal challenges they were facing. There was a lot investment in training, coaching and feedback sessions. Getting their input was critical, as they felt they did not have a voice. 

Over time, the team started supporting one another. Their performance and attitudes improved significantly. I am often asked what did I do that was so different. I simply invested time in them. I was humble, yet firm. I was empathetic and sympathetic. However, I was able to utilize my experience, and be an example to them. I became their advocate, and I was present. 

I still have still the "Thank You" card they gave me. It serves as a reminder that leadership is not easy, but the reward of serving others, is worth the effort. It's easy to perceive leaders as being in the spotlight, or receiving numerous accolades. When done correctly, leadership is not as pretty as it seems. No one sees the hard work behind the scenes, or are privy to the many conversations required to develop excellent team members. Perhaps, that is point of leading.

Linda Sydow is a versatile and innovative leader motivated to improve process, streamline operations and increase revenue. She is well versed in all aspects of operations management, from scheduling and finance, to production and marketing.

Connect with Linda on LinkedIn.

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