A coaching approach to team leadership
In the earlier post, The Qualities of a High Performing Team, we saw that effective leadership need not necessarily come from the nominated team leader. But working on the assumption that you probably are the leader in your team let’s turn our sights on how to combine coaching or team development with other elements of effective leadership.
Look for tomorrow’s problems and issues today
Good leaders tend to be alert, their antennae are permanently raised and they try to spot problems and opportunities early. Try to deal with problems when they are small. If, for example, team members are falling out – and this seems to be more than just the natural jockeying for position at the Assertion stage – intervene and restore communication. It won’t be easy and it won’t be comfortable but you’ll otherwise end up having to solve a much bigger problem.
Learn to adapt to change and turn it to your advantage
In the modern world of work, nothing stays the same. Your team will find the constant change frustrating and wearing and so will you. However you have to be the one to focus on the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. You have to be the eternal optimist and to see changes as opportunities rather than threats. Remember the team will model their reaction to change on yours.
Set high standards and clear goals
Before the team can align behind common goals as we described earlier, they must have common goals to work towards. Often it will be your job to create those goals. Ideally working with the team to create them, but being prepared to take the lead if there is disagreement or the process is taking too long.
Create a sense of purpose, so that individuals can believe in what they’re doing
In these modern times, people are looking from far more from their work than just a living wage. Teams need to believe that their work is meaningful and worthwhile if they are to give of their best. More difficult in a commercial setting than a charitable endeavour perhaps but every business process has a customer at the end of the chain. A person like us who must surely benefit in some way from us doing the best job we can.
Act decisively but not impulsively
Your team will respect you more if you’re prepared to take a position and stand by a decision. Sometimes your decisions will be wrong and you will have to clean up the mess. Other times you’ll be the hero. As long as you act in accordance with your values and can honestly say you believed you were doing the right thing your team will back you.
Practice what you preach
Have a clear view of exactly what you think it means to be a member of that team and then be that person before you expect it of anyone else.
Keep your composure at all times
‘Composed’ needs to be your default setting, unfair though that may seem. Rather than worry about times when it may be appropriate to shout and swear and lose control just don’t do it. Or at the very least, don’t do it in front of the team.
Provide an atmosphere of enthusiasm
Remembering that the team’s level of enthusiasm can never exceed your own.
Be sensitive to the needs of all team members
Finally, despite all this talk of teams, let’s remember that teams are just collections of individuals who’ll have their own unique set of characteristics, beliefs and values that you’re seeking to gel. Everyone has potential, everyone has a powerful contribution to make and if you coach them properly, make it they will!