Over the past two blogs, we have talked about how to better ourselves so that we can then better those around us. We discussed the importance of self-care and learned some tips and tricks to put our best self forward. Once that is under control, we then focus on how to become servant leaders and show those we support and lead that we are with them, understand them, and appreciate all that they do. So now what? Where do we go from here to establish the trust and confidence we need from our subordinates? In this blog, we are going to talk about how “teamwork can make the dream work.”
One of the many questions asked about the servant leadership style has always been, “How do know if my employees and associates are better off this way instead of the traditional dictator-ship style of leading?” Well, again I point us back to Robert Greenleaf, the first author of this style, on what he said is the best testament of the work. “Do those served grow as persons: do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?” There isn’t a better question to ask ourselves as leaders than the statement above. As a leader, we need to always provide adequate growth for the team to excel, not only in their current positions but for promotional potential as well. During my military career, I was always taught that I should strive for the knowledge two ranks above where I am, as well as not forget the tasks of those ranks below me. By being able to work towards gaining the skills I needed for promotion, but also allowing myself to ‘get my hands dirty’ with the ranks below, I was able to establish quite an effective team. Sure, there were ups and downs and learning curves along the way, but having the support of my leadership and allowing me to make tough decisions and learn through my mistakes did help me turn into a much greater leader than I could have been without those possibilities. You can take those same actions as a leader and promote positive growth in your organization with only a few simple tips and tricks to help guide you on your journey.
Focus on persuasion and buy-in
Servant leaders don’t dictate from their hierarchical position when trying to motivate their team. Instead, they analyze their requirements and ask for input and task their subordinates to make decisions and take risks when appropriate. Servant leaders use their excellent communication skills to help persuade the team to create buy-in on teamwide actions that are decided upon by higher echelons. The leader needs to ensure that C-suite priorities are understandable to the customer-facing, boots-on-the-ground employees.
Prioritize team over stakeholder
The job must be completed; that’s a given. What isn’t always a given is the priority of the person rather than the task. As a servant leader, the well-being of your employees is far greater than the bottom line because, without them, there is no bottom, just an endless pit of frustration and despair from those working with you. Servant leaders realize the importance of their team and promote workplace wellness programs, employee assistance programs, and encourage employee feedback to learn what is and is not working at the company. If you are not in a top-tier decision-making position, you are still important to those in your control. Be the advocate for change. Be the one that focuses on your subordinates’ needs and wants and take it to the team that makes the decisions. Once again harness your persuasion skills to get the buy-in from the C-Suite that these changes will positively affect those on the ground floor of the company.
Have the right stuff
For your team to excel, they must have the right conditions to enable them. Before a task starts, make sure you have the right team in place. If you need assistance with a highly specialized skill your team doesn’t possess, go get them. Borrow from another team, reach out to another department, and do what it takes to make sure the team is set up ahead of time to avoid problems and delays. Once the team is set, then lay out and arrange all the items required to make it successful. This includes the right tools, the right data sets, access to required software or materials, and possibly most important, the training and education available, once again, before the work begins. As the team begins to make strides toward completion, don’t forget about praise. Rewards are a fantastic way to show appreciation for all the hard work. Now, that doesn’t mean a monetary gain or a paid day off (although it could). Simple public acknowledgment of a job well done at the morning team huddle, or the end of a long shift can gain great strides in the admiration a team will have for its leadership.
So that’s it. Over the past three blogs, we have talked about what takes to make a great workplace. When we wake up tomorrow everything will be perfect and just fall right into place, right? Well, no. I wish I had some magic bean to plant or some snake oil to charm you with that would instantly make you the best leader the world has ever seen. Unfortunately, I don’t have the power to do that. What I do have the power to do is promote and encourage you. To tell you that YES, you can do this! It won’t happen all at once, you may falter from time to time, but you can become a great servant leader through patience and practice. What it takes is personal pride and dedication. Look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself, “I WILL become a fierce and loyal leader. I WILL do all in my ability to empower my subordinates. I WILL work every day on my faults, learn from my mistakes, and go all out for the betterment of the team and myself.”
All of us at InteraWorks wish you the best of luck on this journey to becoming the best that you can be.
Author – Craig Andrews, InteraWorks Facilitator
InteraWorks is a global learning company on a mission to elevate the human experience at work. Specializing in professional development and performance enablement, we offer top-rated learning programs based on four defined conditions that must exist for individuals, teams including Effective Edge, Best Year Yet, and the Essentials series. Our integrated learning framework and online tools generate immediate and sustainable breakthroughs in performance. Through decades of working at all levels in enterprise companies across many industries, we’ve built a reputation for helping people and organizations harness their focus, mindset, talent and energy to produce results that matter most.
We’ve defined four conditions that must exist for an individual, team or organization to be effective within the arena of performance and development; Accountability, Focus, Alignment, and Integrity. We’ll continue to explore these and more in our blog and look forward to your engagement and interaction with us. Stay tuned as we engage the edges.