Monday, July 26, 2010

Leading Effective Teams - Caring for Them

As you sign on that dotted line of the latest business contract with your Mont Blanc pen, on yet another successful deal, you smile to yourself and try to enjoy the sweet taste of success. Tastes good, doesn't it?
And you would have accomplished it with the great team that you have assembled. Now, leading effective teams take time and the reward is really sweet, especially when you had spent time to nurture your team. Watching them grow from strength to strength and achieving extraordinary results is one of the most satisfying feelings that you can ever have.

These are three ways to show care to your team members, so that you would be able to lead effective teams.
1. Respect Them. Respect is earned. It cannot be commanded and demanded. If anyone salutes you because you demand it, you are not a true leader. You must first learn to respect your team members, and then they would in turn respect you. In addition, respect builds commitment and trust towards each other.
I know of a CEO who would often engage his staff on a personal level. He would get the Human Resource department to organise birthday celebrations for his staff on a monthly basis. He would even text them personally on the short-messaging service (SMS) once in a while to enquire their well being!
So do you talk to your team members openly and frequently? Do you genuinely care for their well being? How do you show your care?

2. Fight for Their Rights and They Would Fight For You. If you fight for their benefits and rights, chances are many of your team members would remember this. There are many times that you as a leader could defend the interests of your members. Do note that this is not defending them blindly, but rather to defend them because they are your team members. If they had done something wrong, then admonish or chide them separately, and not in front of a senior leader. They would learn to appreciate your flexibility and be loyal to you.
A friend who was offered a higher pay job and regional head appointment turned it down as he felt that he was indebted to his current superior who had fought tooth and nail for him to be promoted to where he was right now. While I wouldn't comment on the difference in salary scale, I felt that it was very admirable of him. His superior had obviously influenced him positively.
And how much are you willing to sacrifice your time for your team? Are you able to fight for the interests of your team?

3. Shared and Meaningful Purpose. Many team members would always ask, "What's in it for me?" They want to know why it's so worthwhile for them to work for you. Hence the very reason for the existence of the team becomes the bedrock of the team and organisation. It also becomes the cementing agent that binds everyone together, as they would have common shared values.
Japanese workers in the past used to believe that their employer is for life. However, the younger generation now believe in working for their benefit. They do not want to be tied down to anyone. Hence they take on multiple jobs to learn more and to interact with more people. Their beliefs are therefore very different from their parents. If you are a leader belonging to a previous generation, you would thus need to gain insights into their thinking. And if you are a leader belonging to the current generation of yuppies, you would need to gain their trust by having shared values common to them. These actions would then reflect a deeper commitment by your team members because you show that you care about them.
Do you have common shared values for your team? Is it aligned to their beliefs? Can you reach out to those younger than you?

In summary, these three ways are some ways for you to learn in the never-ending quest of leadership management. Use them appropriately and you would first see changes in yourself, and then in others.

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