In this series of posts I am revealing three leadership examples every leader lives out while working with their team.
Most leaders desire to unmute their leadership and lead strong. The struggle is that their words, lessons, and rants aren’t really making a difference in team performance. If that is you, your leadership may be muted. You are saying the right things, but your team can’t hear you. The example you live out is impacting the team more than the words you are saying. It’s time to unmute your leadership.
The first example you lead with is your confession. The second example you lead through is your correction. The third team-impacting example you give is your direction.
Clear direction produces a healthy team. The converse is also true. An unclear team is an unhealthy team.
How you lead in direction will determine the health and effectiveness of your team. Your downline will duplicate the example you give them. If you are unclear, your whole organization will eventually reflect that reality.
Changing yourself is the only way to ensure your weaknesses don’t become the weaknesses of the entire organization you lead.
Years ago, I lead teams of varying sizes in a job requiring very specific attention to detail. The failure to get it right meant opening both our company and our clients to prosecution on both state and federal levels. The challenge was that these teams were primarily made up of temporary employees who spoke little to no english and read even less. With teams that could number fifty or more people, how I gave direction in those moments made all the difference.
I quickly learned that a verbal explanation was not going to get the job done. No matter how slowly I spoke or how diligently they listened, the direction was not going to be clear. We simply did not speak the same language!
What brought clarity every time was gathering them in small groups and demonstrating the process very slowly, several times. I knew when they were clear on the directions because it changed their demeanor entirely. They began to smile. Laughing could be heard. Progress was made quickly and efficiently.
If your team is spending eight hours a day working together, without a sense of camaraderie being developed, something is wrong on your team. The issue is likely to be a lack of clear direction.
When your team has clear direction, they can relax in the confidence that they know what to do and when to do it. The stress of trying to achieve an unknown goal is removed. The team can effectively gauge, moment by moment, if they are accomplishing their objective and pleasing their supervisor.
The obvious question is, “How do I exemplify positive leadership when giving direction?”
3 Steps to Exemplifying Positive Leadership When Giving Direction
Step 1: Know yourself
What language do you speak? What are your areas of weakness? You have weaknesses, and you will often adopt leadership methods that hide them. An uncertain person may become loud or rude to hide their uncertainty. A rushed person may demand obedience without explanation to hide their lack of preparation. Consistent exposure to these types of leadership will demoralize a team. They will exemplify the same leadership style in their lives, and the morale leak will spread throughout the organization.
Knowing yourself will allow you to address your weaknesses. Changing yourself is the only way to ensure your weaknesses don’t become the weaknesses of the entire organization you lead.
A great tool to learn about yourself is the Myers Briggs test. Using PersonalityPage.com , you can take the test for $5. That is a low investment with the potential for a huge return.
Step 2: Know your team
I was able to give clear direction to a team, with whom I could not easily communicate, because I knew their limitations. Directing a team to accomplish an impossible goal kills morale. Pushing a team to stretch to reach an achievable goal is a confidence builder. The only way to gauge which one you are doing is by knowing your team.
A great way to develop your knowledge of your team is to take them through the DISC profile test. Here is a quick, easy, and free resource you can use to better understand your team. If possible, hire a consultant in the field. If budgets are a concern, using free resources will put you on the right path.
You cannot consistently give clear direction to a team you do not know.
Step 3: Know what questions to answer
Knowing yourself and your team will not result in clarity if you do not answer the right questions. Clear direction will always answer the following questions:
Who needs to be there?
Where do they need to be?
When they need to arrive?
What they need to do when they arrive?
Here are the two questions leaders rarely answer:
Why do they need to be there?
Answering this question provides context for the effort your team is making. When they know why they are doing the task, it empowers them to foresee issues and handle them appropriately.
I could not effectively explain why we were placing the updates to the booklets to the teams of people who did not speak english. There are few times when answering why something needs to be done is impossible, but I’ve found those situations to be rare. Most leaders who choose not to answer the “why” lack clarity themselves or are demonstrating dominance over their team.
A team that knows “why” is a team empowered to overcome obstacles to the known goal.
What is the expected outcome of the team’s work?
By providing the team with your expectations of their work, you empower them to meet those expectations.
The failure to meet expectations often costs lost time, lower morale, and lost revenue. Those losses can be avoided if expectations are clearly stated from the beginning.
This week take a moment to step back from the day to day business to look at how you have handled the direction of your team. Has the team been productive? Have they met your expectations? If not, you need to address your clarity in giving direction. If so, congratulations! You are leading well.
Exemplify positive direction and your leadership will be heard loud and clear. Your team will begin duplicating your clarity in direction and experiencing greater levels of success in no time!
I’d love to hear what you think! What can you add to this list? What has your experience taught you in this area of leadership? Share your ideas below in the comments section.