Why should you care about being an inspiring leader for your team? Isn’t it enough that your team gets the job done, well?
OK, you’re fairly sure they moan about you behind your back sometimes – when there’s a deadline to meet, a difficult project to complete, and you’re on their backs. But that’s normal, isn’t it? What manager isn’t used to the conversation stopping when they appear?
And yes, absence can be a problem at times when we’re really busy. I see some of my team looking stressed before they go off with a cold. Again, it’s normal, surely?
Also, people want to progress in their careers and that usually means moving to another company. So when my team members leave, yes it’s a pain having to replace them but that’s life.
As a manager, you just have to deal with these things.
What if I tell you that you don’t have to ‘just deal with these things’?
What if I tell you there’s a way to improve your peoples’ morale, motivation, engagement, well-being, and performance? And it won’t cost you anything but some time and effort?
Read on for three ways you can move from being a manager dealing with ‘these things that are normal’ to being an inspiring leader with a really cohesive, effective, and outperforming team of people who will rarely moan about you behind your back.
Know your people
Knowing your people – their strengths, values, career (and life) aspirations, and what matters to them – helps them to feel understood and valued. When people feel valued and understood, they’re likely to be loyal and motivated to do a great job for you.
When you know their strengths – those things they’re great at AND really enjoy – you can allocate work, projects, and responsibilities that enable them to use their strengths. You can improve collaboration within the team by encouraging people to work together and to support each other where they have complementary strengths. And you will see motivation and performance increase.
When you understand people’s career aspirations, you can enable them to develop so they can achieve their goals.
There are a lot of studies that report development, and a sense of progression is a really important thing to people in their careers – and that many people leave a job because this is lacking.
Knowing your people also helps you understand how much ‘pressure’ they can take – some people thrive on challenges and tight deadlines, others don’t – and to set achievable goals and stretch goals that are appropriate for them.
Build trust with your people
Trust is a powerful thing. It takes time to build and seconds to lose. It’s a big part of having a relationship with someone, and if someone doesn’t trust their leader it’s really damaging to the working relationship and environment.
There are different ways to build trust with your team, and it can mean different things to different people. Knowing your people as individuals will go a long way towards understanding what it means to each of your team and how you can build trust with them.
A few things that always have a positive impact, in my experience are:
- Act with integrity. Say what you mean and do what you say.
- Be vulnerable. Share things about yourself – your own strengths, aspirations and what matters to you. Tell them if you don’t have the answers they’re looking for, or don’t know how to do something.
- Find common strengths and values; and show that you respect the different strengths and values within the team.
- Let them decide how to work. Agree their goals with them, offer any support they need, and then let them achieve their goals in the way that works best for them. This may include how they work, when they work and where they work. You’ll see their strengths shine through and are likely to benefit from creativity and motivations.
- Help them to work through problems and mistakes, encouraging them to learn.
Give your people a voice
Encourage your people to come up with ideas, share what irritates them, input to changes, solve problems, lead team meetings and give you feedback.
By creating a safe space for your people to be heard you’ll encourage open, trusting relationships and contribute to employee engagement.
You’ll benefit from fresh ideas and perspectives. You’ll create opportunities for people to use their strengths and develop their skills. And you’ll likely take some pressure off yourself too.
The key thing for you to do is to listen and to implement what you can, to explain when you can’t, and to show that you listened and value their input.
Putting it into practice
By putting these three things into practice, you’ll develop stronger relationships with your people. You’ll see an increase in engagement, well-being, and performance. You’ll see a reduction in conversations behind your back, in absence when things are tough, and in your people leaving your team.
Have you done these things? What results did you see?