Sunday, August 1, 2010

Leading Effective Teams - Communicate with Them

Leaders have very clear visions and they constantly communicate and cascade these visions to their people. In his book Leadership, the first principle Rudolph Giuliani shared was his insistence on his routine morning meeting. "I consider it the cornerstone to efficient functioning within any system...We accomplish a great deal during that first hour, in large part because the lines of communication were so clear."

These are three ways for communication, so that you would be able to lead effective teams.

1. Rapport. Rapport is a unique chance in building relationships. There might be cases whereby you instantly disliked someone at first glance. However if the dislike was due to some bias which could be ironed out, you would have created rapport between the two of you. Rapport can be built. It can be build by taking time out to be attuned with your team members. Rapport can be built by the occasional treats, the constant personal conversations, and even your regular presence during team trainings and workshops. All these little actions create an environment where people speak up.

The day that your team members stop coming to talk about their problems to you, is the day that you have stopped leading them. They have either lost their confidence in you, or realised that you don't care enough for them. Colin Powell emphasized this scenario as a case of "Leadership Failure"

Hence can you find time to join your team members during their training sessions? Are you able to just have time-out with your team members?

2. Listen Carefully. You have two ears and one mouth. That should be a clear indication that we should all listen twice as much before talking. You see, all great leaders are exceptional listeners. Former US President Bush listens to his top advisors. President Barack Obama gets unfiltered information. So, if presidents have time to listen to all these information, shouldn't you too? Pay attention more to the words from the grapevine as well, because it is another source of vital information. You could do so from the smoking room, the reception area, or even over toilet breaks. These are all vital information straight from the horses' mouth.

So, do you spend time listening to your team members before speaking up?

3. Establish Effective Feedback. Mutual accountability is very important in this area to establish effective feedback. Once team members promise to hold themselves accountable for their actions and strategies, feedback will flow progressively. No one would be too shy to cover up for his own mistakes and instead seek to constantly find feedback from you. Therefore you would need to establish a good feedback platform for this to be successful.

Readiness reports in certain projects give a robust feedback platform as any delays or successful milestones can be seen by all. Routine team meetings whether conducted weekly or fortnightly, keep everyone informed about the latest happenings and information. An effective After Action Review (AAR) would also help everyone in their teachings and learning. Incidentally, I would talk about conducting effective AAR in a separate article. So stay tuned.

Are you open-minded enough for two-way communication? Can your team members see any action after you have been given their feedback?

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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