I love this time of year. As I write this in August, the weather is warm, the grass is green, and the sun is shining bright. Especially this year, it’s nice to take a brief moment, tilt your head back, and bask in the warmth of the sunshine for a few minutes. Once you’re done daydreaming about laying by a pool or on a beach, think of how you can enjoy this same feeling as a leader.
Your job as it relates to the tasks you must perform is very different from your job as a leader of people. Often people combine them into one role; and by title, that makes sense. But the responsibilities, thought process and actions needed to perform your daily tasks and to serve as a leader are two totally different things. Let’s talk a bit about your responsibilities as a leader.
Let your team make decisions — your job is to empower them.
I’ve always believed that people will surprise you with what they can accomplish if they know they are supported. When decisions have to be made, let your team help. When my team creates our annual goals, my first step is not to write out a list — I ask each person on my team to write out their own goals. We then talk through them and make sure they are measurable, attainable and relevant. If the goal is theirs to create instead of you telling them what they should do, they are much more likely to push hard to achieve it. This not only leads to more confidence, but also in the willingness to create stretch goals.
Let your team make mistakes — your job is to ensure they learn from them.
Whether it’s the attempt to reach those stretch goals or just working through ideas, let your team make mistakes. Allow them to throw stuff at the wall with the knowledge that not everything is going to stick. When ideas fall and hit the floor, do you take the time to review the entire process with your team to find out why it didn’t work? Ensuring they learn from the mistakes made, whether they were conceptual or process related, is the key to growth.
Let your team do their work — your job is to remove roadblocks.
This is a mistake I see quite often, particularly when people promote “up the chain.” You’ve done this before, so it would just be faster and better if you did it yourself. It can be extremely difficult to come to grips with the fact that “your way” isn’t the only way — and may not even be the best way. Your role as the leader is not to do the work for your team. Focus on identifying and removing roadblocks that could impact your team’s efficiency and ability to do their best work.
To put it simply, once the task and desired results are identified, your job is to get the heck out of the way and take as many potential issues with you. If more issues present themselves, step back in where needed to remove them (and don’t forget to get back out of the way)!
Let your team succeed — your job is to give them recognition.
Once your team has done their work and achieved the goal, your role as a leader is to congratulate them for a job well done. The way you do this will be different for everyone on your team.
Take the time to ask each person directly about their preference for recognition. Some may like direct and private recognition, while others may like seeing their name in lights for everyone to see. Be thoughtful in how you do this and spread the love evenly whenever possible. Recognition can be a great motivator for future success when done correctly.
Let your team in — your job is to trust them.
Open communication and transparency are things I’ve talked about before. The best way to build a cohesive team is to let them in on what you know whenever possible. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts, processes and the reasons behind what you do. Building a wall between you and your team as it relates to what you’re working on, your decisions and your problems will result in a team that you aren’t a part of.
Finally, when the weather is warm and the grass is green, let your team shine bright. It’s your job to take a brief moment, tilt your head back and bask in the warmth of the sunshine for a few minutes.