There is no doubt that the single most important skill to define a leader; to will make or break his or her reputation is their ability to work with a team. This important skill quickly separates true leaders from the “wannabe” that wants to gloat in their own self importance.
You may fool fans, but you will never fool the team.
Twenty five years of working with teams in various settings, sometimes leading, sometimes a team member and sometimes advising, has helped me discover the 5 most common areas of failure for leaders. Advice, learning and growth took place in at least one of these areas in all the time I have coached and trained leaders. Make sure you ace these areas to give your lead reputation a fighting chance:1. Know the difference between Mission, Vision, Strategy and Goals:
Being able to clearly define the difference between these four elements and being able to competently implement them within a team setting will help draw out passion and focus efforts in a controlled and measurable way that fosters repeatable success.
Team work is about repeatable success, and these four elements are the very foundational principles that will set you apart from teams that are like ships without rudders.
Every team goes through 5 phases of development, although some will get lost in the process. Each team will form. Each team will go through the storm. Each team should then normalise. Once they normalised it is easier to take them to phase four – perform. And to close off, each team will adjourn.
A good leader knows what is required of the team in and what role he or she should play in each phase. Poor leaders and managers lose their teams and are allowed to aimlessly float among the phases. One hit wonders and success by luck characterise lost teams.
The storm phase involves managing conflict. Most leaders avoid conflict at all costs to their own detriment. Effective conflict management is essential to the growth of individuals, teams and leaders. Toughen up buttercup – conflict is coming – learn how to deal with it in a manner positive to your reputation.
The number one rule for teams is: They All Have A Natural Life Span! Do not motivate a team that has gone past its life span date! You time, energy and resources will be wasted.3. Be an Expert in Communication and Understanding People:
The ability to communicate effectively is essential in leadership. Great leaders in history had powerful communication skills. This fact begs the question - which came first: Leadership or Communication Skills. How ever you answer that question it remains that communication is a critical skill to good leadership.
Hand in hand to communication is the ability to understand various people and their cultures. Being able to effectively communicate with people to elicit values, gain their buy-in on your vision, finding out what motivates them and how to reward them in return will set you above the average and group you with the great leaders of history.4. Know how to Clearly define Team Job Descriptions:
When people say there is no “I” in team, team sports pops to mind. Even though the sport is not dependant on a single play, each person in the team is selected for their special or unique skills in a position.
That player owns that position. Their own personality and flavour they bring adds to the skill and influence of the team as a whole. No team have all their plays in the same position. Not all the players will be a goal keeper. Who will do the scoring then? Not all can focus on scoring, who will defend?
A good leader knows how to define the individual roles of players, allowing their personal influence to flavour the position and strengthen the team.
Take time and make the effort to discover what motivates and demotivates team members. Take time and make the effort to discover how to reward your team members for time and effort they plough into the team objectives.
Glory pinching leaders soon discover that they are left to row the boat on their own. Be the kind of leader that gives, that motivates and that rewards. A team member that is motivated and feels appreciated will often selflessly walk a second and third mile for the leader and team objectives.Gaining knowledge about leadership and team development is just as important as learning and gaining knowledge in your career. To be known as a subject matter expert takes growth in three areas: Your field, people and leadership.
Constant learning, practise and implementation will give rise to your reputation as a leader worth his salt. Better that than being known as a self absorbed fool, don’t you think?