Six Practices for Leading a Team

By |2018-12-04T14:20:35-06:00January 1st, 2019|

Marcus Buckingham says that there is a big difference between leading and managing. I agree 100%. The best organizational leaders communicate hope through vision. The best team leaders make that vision happen through people. My guess is that you manage some people in some way, whether they are your kids, volunteer team members, or paid staff members. How do the best managers do it? Here are six behaviors that the best managers consistently do.

  1. They collaboratively create a simple plan/strategy with measurable results. People need ownership with the plan so that they buy into it. It is always better when it is “our plan” and not “their” plan. This takes more time to create, but the results and the morale will be worth the time.   The plan also needs to be simple. You want people to be able to remember the vision and the plan. You want them to be able to share it with others without having to download a document.
  2. They provide clear expectations for each person on the team while connecting it to the plan and the vision. People need to know specifically what to do and how it connects to the big picture. Guess work with expectations is cruel management. Clarity around expectations will provide a target, motivation, and satisfaction for goal-oriented people.
  3. They study team members to find their best contributions. Some tests are helpful with this, but no test replaces observation and time to see the greatness in people. Interview for positions initially, but study people for placement. In interviews, be thinking about what they could do later for the team, not what they are applying for currently.
  4. They make development of people their number one goal. They know their primary function is developing people. They provide learning opportunities, coaching, and give feedback on a consistent basis. They don’t wait for annual reviews to give feedback. They also empower other coaches to help in the development of people. People receive coaching best from a person who doesn’t give them their paycheck. People will obey a judge, but they will eagerly follow a coach.
  5. They care for the people on the team. This is true of the best leaders and managers. The most important customer is their team, not the people who buy the product. Care needs to be shown in a variety of ways. It needs to be felt in the culture. People need to see care in their manager’s eyes, hear it in their voice, and see it in their actions. If you don’t naturally do this, it will be important to create a system that forces you to do this. Systems can help with skills that aren’t intuitive.
  6. They celebrate their team members through affirmation, recognition, and promotion. People will often say things like “I don’t like to be publicly appreciated” or “I don’t do my work for recognition.” I get it. It can be uncomfortable, but I have never had a person come back and say please don’t ever thank me again. In fact, almost everyone comes back and shares how it meant so much to them to be appreciated. Affirm constantly, recognize achievement systematically, and promote from within. This will create a culture that people will love.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you agree with the difference between leading and managing? Say more about that.
  • What are some simple ways to communicate clear expectations?
  • How have people helped you discover your unique strengths?
  • As for care and celebration, share a few things that you are either currently doing or could start doing to create a caring celebratory culture?