You know and we know, and we know that you know that most leaders are only as good as the team around them. We’ve all experienced those managers whose leadership style is based on being social secretary of the office with KPIs around likeability versus the micro-manager for whom inspiration and empathy are seemingly impossible.
So, what’s the key to combining the two? Of being both an efficient manager and leader of people while inspiring, motivating and building a positive team culture?
Here are our five key thoughts.
Understand what drives your team
So often do businesses and organisations think of staff as only that – staff. As if their identity at work makes up their entire being and ‘work life’ exists in a vacuum independent of the rest of the world. In reality, all members of your team have unique stories, drivers, challenges and aspirations.
A great leader knows this and is adept at tapping into the very specific things that make each individual tick. Why do your team members come to work every day? Is it to make money? Build a career? Make their family proud? Understanding the drivers, and having the kind of relationship where you can talk about them, will see you well on your way to getting the most out of your people.
And, as a leader, what’s more important?
Ensure consistency in decision making and communication
Ever seen those leaders who outwardly toe the organisational line in their communication but will happily undermine that communication in more private circles? Or those who make decisions but weaken them by communicating confusingly and inconsistently with their team? Yeah, don’t be those leaders.
Your integrity as a leader lies in alignment between the decisions you make and the way that you communicate with your people. Your team need to know that you own the decisions you make and that you ultimately believe in the decisions you make. Nothing will undermine the respect your team have for you quicker than inconsistency between what you say and what you do.
Acknowledging good work (and bad behaviour)
Okay so this one is really important. Your role as a leader is absolutely to acknowledge and celebrate success within your team. In terms of building a positive, high-performing culture, few things incentivise people like actually incentivising people. However it is that you choose to do that (hint: it should probably align with what drives people, see point one!) your team need to know that great work that aligns with the culture and values of the organisation, will be rewarded.
The flip side of that though, is that the wrong behaviour – that is, behaviour that’s inconsistent with the organisation’s values – must be called out by you, even when it’s committed by someone who is a high performer. Team members who are perceived as good at their jobs not being held to the same level of accountability as others is a recipe for disaster; it breeds a toxic culture and makes it impossible to truly build a high-performing, positive, working environment.
Setting culture expectations
One guess as to who the buck for a poor working culture stops? Yep, got it in one; YOU! As a leader of a team of people that are not only effective at what they do but that are committed to building and maintaining a place and culture of work that is positive and aspirational, your ultimate accountability is setting the culture and tone of the team.
While this means outlining the behaviour you expect from your team, it also means setting boundaries for the way you expect your people to be treated by the broader organisation. This isn’t about setting up an ‘us vs them’ mentality within the workplace; rather, it’s about ensuring that your team know that you, as their leader, can be counted upon to look out for their best interests.
Your role as a leader is absolutely to acknowledge and celebrate success within your team.
This one’s a reminder for all you leaders out there, and it’s really simple. Just as you need to get to know your team to learn how to get the best out of them, you need to let your team get to know you in return. Leaders aren’t robots and they’re usually not perfect.
Being human, authentic and genuine will build the type of trust and credibility within your team that no management technique could, and a team with implicit trust at its core, is well set up to build towards becoming a highly performing team.