Three Ways to Make a Great Team Even Better
By Kyle Danner - February 13, 2020
Recently, I was working with a young leadership team (“young” in the sense of age and their tenure with the company). The owner was a textbook Visionary, and like so many visionaries, he had trouble communicating his vision. It was so clear in his mind, but just like an artist using words to describe a painting, his words couldn’t capture the full picture.
As he struggled to paint the picture, he grew more passionate. Then his passion turned to frustration. The frustration wasn’t with his team. It was with himself. Because he couldn’t share his vision clearly, he saw himself failing. And worse than that, he was concerned the intensity of words sounded like he was criticizing his team.
I’ve seen this before in entrepreneurs and business owners. I saw it in my family’s business and experienced it myself in my business. It’s the sheer frustration of trying to paint a clear picture of where you want to take your company. At break, he and I talked about what he was experiencing. Then we checked in with the team. They understood his frustration and they weren’t taking it personally.
This experience was irritating for the visionary leader, but it was extremely beneficial for the team as a whole. Why? Because in that experience, he did three things that made his team even better.
1. He showed vulnerability.
He owned up to his mistakes, including a recent hiring mistake and his failure to adequately support a loyal team member. For trust to exist, leaders must be vulnerable with their team members. That includes being willing to admit your mistakes and when you were wrong.
Sounds awful doesn’t it? I’ll be honest. Being vulnerable is one of the most uncomfortable things you’ll ever do. It feels like being naked in public or going to school in your underwear. But by modeling vulnerability, you can reinforce trust among your team. This, in turn, encourages them to be open with one another.
2. He attacked the issue.
Accountability was a major issue in this client’s organization, mostly due to a lack of structure, including well-documented processes. That’s common in a fast-growing company like this one, where sales increased more than 20% last year. In this kind of industry, if a problem isn’t tackled head-on, it often festers and transforms into a much bigger issue. Once it reaches this point, resolving the problem can be almost impossible.
While the young leader felt like he was attacking his team, he really was attacking the issue. And by attacking the issue, he and the team prioritized documentation of key processes for the next quarter. It was a crucial step in creating accountability everyone agreed they needed.
If a small problem pops up in your business, it’s going to be tempting to push it under the rug and hope it resolves itself. But just imagine what might have happened if the visionary leader didn’t address his frustration. Eventually, that frustration may have been redirected to his teammates who can’t understand what he’s trying to say. The other people on the leadership team may get frustrated themselves, feeling like they aren’t making any progress and aren’t on the same page.
It’s always better to get ahead of an issue before it leads to a blowout than after.
3.He showed genuine concern.
Leaders say they care, but that’s not always the case. You’ve probably seen this yourself. The boss says he puts employees first, but his words and his actions say otherwise. With this leader, it was different. You could feel how much he cared when he talked.
He cared about his team. He cared about the people who worked for his company. He cared about his customers. He grew 20% last year because he cared. And because he cared so much, his leadership team did, too.
Think about the way that he made sure the team knew they weren’t the cause of his frustration. That simple action told them, “I care about how you feel, and I want you to know this is a safe place.”
A business is only as successful as its employees. If you want to grow your business and gain traction, you have to show your employees that their thoughts, opinions, and feelings matter. A little compassion can go a long way toward building a healthy, engaged culture.
Are You Confident in Where Your Business is Headed?
Your team is truly remarkable. You already have everything you need to succeed. You just need the right direction to bring your strengths, and your employees’ strengths, to the surface.
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