Team Building: An Essential Leadership Skill
Corporations can not survive without teams: there’s too much work to do. As a company grows it divides into teams, based on common factors. Instead of having one or several people do everything the individual employees become specialists in one aspect of the business. Companies believe this saves money and is the best way to utilize the abilities of their employees.
Dividing personnel and putting them in a certain spot on the organizational chart does not produce unity. It takes time and work to build an efficient and effective team. Unfortunately, many teams become dysfunctional. A dysfunctional team can slow productivity, service delivery and the overall operational effectiveness of the company.
Teams do not have to be dysfunctional. The leader or manager, more than anything else, determines the success or failure of a team. If the leader’s agenda and delivery is all about the leader rather than the individual team members or the team, it feels like a dictatorship. This type of leader often does not want input. Employees are not confident sharing their true opinions or ideas in this type environment. Rather their responses become routine intending to please the leader. When the leader fails to do effective team building, employees do not grow, good ideas are repressed and this attitude affects all areas of their jobs and the company.
A leader not willing to listen could have their own confidence challenges as well as control problems. Many times the most qualified person for the job does not have the management and leadership skills that they need to transition to their role as leader. Leadership skills can be learned and developed. This can be accomplished through training with ongoing coaching. Unfortunately, employees are stuck with the unqualified manager while they either become more qualified as a leader or continue to operate as they have – a tough situation to be in and the company suffers.
Managing conflict in the workplace can highlight the challenges a leader can face. People fear conflict for numerous reasons. Some avoid it at all costs. This type of person is careful to make sure none of their words are interpreted as controversial. Others abandon the discussion as it starts to pick up steam. A good leader knows how to navigate conflict. Discussing different ideas and ways of doing things often leads to a better way. A good leader is comfortable facilitating diverse opinions, does not let anyone get out of order, draws out quiet employees, does not allow one person to monopolize the situation and considers all suggestions.
Leaders are expected to evaluate the performance of team members, hold them accountable, apply discipline if needed, and foster a positive team environment. A leader, who lacks self control and does not want others to hold them accountable, finds it difficult to manage people. Team members have jobs to do, goals to reach, and expectations to meet. They grow when their manager communicates with them openly and honestly about their responsibilities. In many companies though it seems leadership styles range from one extreme to the other – they either overlook everyone’s behavior or they control everything everyone does.
What can a leader do to foster healthy growth on their team? Being human and showing their vulnerability is perhaps the most important tools for good leaders. It demonstrates their authenticity, and builds trust. Many times employees feel inferior to their leaders. Therefore, they are never truly comfortable around their managers and are reluctant to speak up. A good leader admits when they are wrong as well as shares incidents to show they are imperfect humans. They make everyone feel as important as everyone else. It is difficult to build teams if employees feel favoritism exists.
A good leader encourages communication and feedback from their employees. When someone shares an idea they do not belittle that person, and they do not let other team members attack each other. By giving each person and each idea value, the employees feel valued. When suggestions lead to positive changes, a good leader gives credit to the person with the idea as well as the team. This builds self confidence and a strong team. Employees continue contributing. In some situations a healthy team is more productive than individuals. The team combines the strength and knowledge of all members.
A good leader keeps the team focused. In the work place, especially during meetings, it is easy to get distracted. The employees look to the manager as their example. If the manager has a negative attitude or spends too much time on personal phone calls, the employees feel this is OK.
A good leader controls the work environment without being controlling. It’s a common belief that actors have strong egos. Leaders lose their egos. They do not focus on their needs but rather what’s best for the team. A good leader knows without the help of their team they will not be successful. Therefore, one of their main advantages is to build a strong team.
Need Team Building in your organization? Or training for your leaders on how to build high performing teams?