6 Ways Leaders Avoid Becoming Roadblocks

Whether you’ve been managing for a long time, you have a new team or are a new manager; include your own positive and negative contributions to the team when you evaluate the team’s overall success. There could be times where it’s you that may keep the team from growing.  You could be out of touch with the team, maybe you’re still using traditional methods that are no longer reaping the same results, or perhaps the pressure from senior leadership is driving your decisions in a different direction than where the team is going.  Whatever the reason, take some time to try some of the idea s below.

Rely on Experts
A very wise man once told me that he always surrounded himself with people that were smarter than he was.  At first pass, you may agree, but he was an expert too.  Remember that as a manager you are there to lead, motivate, mentor and, when necessary, even discipline.  The people on your team are there because of their expertise and every day that you rely on them to bring their very best to the rest of the team you allow them to make good decisions based on their expertise. Challenge them to grow further and then step back so they believe they are trusted experts.

Sit in the Pit
The best way to understand what motivates and runs a team is to take time regularly to be around them.  All too often, I see managers move further and further away from their teams for the office with the nice view and the big door.  You’ll be missing out on an abundance of non-verbal and verbal information that could help you understand how to manage the team and who might need the most guidance.  Anytime the source of truth is further than the mouth that speaks it, surely the message will be old, inaccurate or both.  (This is a great paragraph, it really reads so well.)

Publicly Praise the Team
It’s nice to hear when you’re doing a great job so think about the last time you praised your team.  If it’s sincere they will know and appreciate it.  If it’s not, they’ll see right through it. If you don’t know what to praise them about, it’s possible that their goals are not clear or maybe your expectations are too high. Sit down and consider what the team could do that you would consider praiseworthy and then share it with them.

Raise Individual Concerns Privately
It’s difficult to hear constructive advice and it’s just as hard to deliver it.  To build and retain trust within a team, corrections should be done privately, courageously, and with respect.  Use examples of what initiated the need to discuss it and offer a suggestion on what could have been done instead.  Doing this privately shields the rest of the team from unnecessary stress, defensiveness and confusion that may be uncovered while you work directly with the people that most need the help.

Allow the Team to Fail
We are told as children not to fear failure; it is part of learning and we should persevere with the courage to try.  Lanette Creamer, a writer and speaker, says, “If failure is not an option it is guaranteed.”  When teams are given the security to fail and still keep the respect of their manager and peers, they will keep trying.

Manage Up
Everyone has a responsibility to someone in the corporate ladder, so consider that while you are trying your best to stay out of the way while providing clear direction and support. Your boss may need the same advice. If you are having difficulty, allow the team to evolve and grow because of influences above you. Take the time to smooth the path for the teams by smoothing the path between you and your manager.

These are simple pointers to help you stay engaged with the current state of your team and how to encourage progress..Encourage your peers and leaders to consider these ideas and pass them along.  When we have better leaders, we have a better chance of having great teams. If you have other ideas, I would love to hear them!

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