Teams and leaders are two sides of a single coin. It is only when we forget this that things can go awry.
Leaders, and teams, must develop an unwavering bond in order for each to be effective and to accomplish the team’s goals.
True success begins with trust. It’s the first letter in the title of my book, “TEAMS ROCK:” and it’s just that important.
How can a leader build trust with the team? It starts on day one when you engage with the team. From the moment you walk in and meet new team members – or take over as the leader of a team you belong to – you must know the course that the team is taking toward their ultimate goal. You must lead, direct and coach the team to give their best performance. And you must build their trust in you to lead them along the course that was set.
That’s quite daunting, isn’t it?
Don’t run away just yet. As a team leader, you were chosen for the role because it was perceived that you have the qualities needed to build a coherent, effective team and reach the goals that the company has set for the team. You absolutely are the best person for this task.
In past blog posts, I wrote about the four stages of team matriculation: Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Refer back to those for details of what the team should be doing during these stages, and how leadership styles change to effectively lead the team through their matriculation pattern.
Leaders lay down the rules and guidelines necessary to meet team objectives. They make sure each team member is performing and staying on task. They coach team members when necessary to bring out better performance.
Once the team is on course, though, it’s time for the leader to do something that seems the opposite of leading: You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable to the team.
I’ve written about this previously because it’s so important to fitting the most important piece of the team into place: trust.
As you build your team’s performance you’ll experience several moments where team members may express their own vulnerability to you. Sometimes it’s a small gesture, like showing you a picture of their children. Sometimes it’s an admission that they’re uncertain about an aspect of their jobs.
When team members express a vulnerability to you, they’re showing trust in you as a leader. It’s always a positive step forward.
As a leader, you can build on that trust by occasionally being vulnerable to your team. That doesn’t necessarily mean pouring out your heart; you can chat about your passion for karate, for example, or talk about something your mother or father does that endears them to you.
Building a level of trust between team members and leaders allows everyone to talk more openly about issues that concern them at work: issues that may truly be affecting a team’s performance. That opens the way for leader and team to solve those problems together. Doing so builds even more trust. And on and on.
In the Bonuses section of my site there is an assessment chart that will help evaluate the health of the team. Fill out the chart. Have a fellow team member fill out one, too. Compare your scores. You’ll get valuable insight on how effective your team is, and how well meshed they are with each other.
Excerpted from One Team, One Dream by Gregg Gregory
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