#LeadershipMinit - As the old saying goes, “You can’t bake a cake without cracking a few eggs.” Mistakes or failures (cracks) can teach you where you need to concentrate your attention or training.
Leading teams is not set & forget. It requires your attention. The first thing to do is observe. How is the team progressing? Note: This is where you need to discount the wins you have been getting in financial metrics, safety, morale etc. and instead watch for any pressures that are building as these will reveal where the cracks will appear. They are where you can help the most.
In a traditional work culture, people will usually avoid revealing something that may either embarrass them or cause them to have to present some mistake or miscommunication. As a leader, you need to cultivate an environment that promotes the opposite. If you don't know what's going wrong (or is about to go wrong) your teams will never achieve greatness.
Wins have helped keep your team ticking along and rallying around their set goals. (If you are in a turnaround - the momentum gained by starting over will only get you so far.) If your team is hitting their stride in the metrics... then the pressure of performing will start to cause some "cracks in the egg."
If you're being observant. They need not be bad ones. They are indicators of entering a new phase of team dynamics. They tell you where you can improve in order for your team to achieve greatness.
As leadership expert and author of Intent-Based Leadership, David Marquet,
says about teams: "Your job is to achieve greatness. Not to avoid mistakes."
The next time an error, failure or your team is stressed:
Start by saying, "Thank you for telling me that." It promotes an environment where telling you something you may not want to (but need to) hear is allowed. Then:
- Remember that errors and stress are normal - its how you lead them through these issues that matters most.
- Was there a roadblock that could have been moved to stop a chain of events, reduce stress or interpersonal conflict?
- Could it be some training that needs to happen for that person or team?
- Perhaps, it’s information that didn’t get to you so that you could help.
You may need to put better mechanisms in place to facilitate that information landing in your sphere.
- Conversely, was there some authority that you could have/should have given to the person or team so that they could handle it before it became an issue?
- Have you given the person or team the ability to “think?”
Do they feel that they are allowed to use their brains at work and have you made sure that they have the training and knowledge needed to be competent? Don't empower your people to think - emancipate them.
- Did you give the person or team the clarity on what was needed to be accomplished?
Give them appropriate authority to act, train them in what they need to be competent and then certify that they are competent & have clarity. Errors will decrease and greatness will reveal itself.
- How can you change the environment so that the cracks don't derail the team?
If you've looked at all the factors and the issue/s sometimes this does mean "boiling the egg" or moving/changing the eggs in the basket. Not ideal, and it shouldn't be your first option, but if it changes the environment for the rest of the team so that it can perform better and happier then...
Are there any circumstances at your organization where teams were stressed, cracks appeared and your leadership either saved the day - or you identified anything that could be done better next time?