Many of us have experienced a broad spectrum of leaders. There are many types of leaders but for the purpose of this conversation, the spectrum I’m using focuses on micromanagement vs. hands-off management. These two buckets encompass most leaders, whether they’re authoritarian, democratic, laissez-faire, situational and so on. A leader’s style will put them somewhere on this spectrum of overbearing micromanagement or absent, hands-off management. Both of these are detrimental to a team environment.
There’s a line that leaders need to walk. It’s not always easy, but always necessary. As a leader, a consistent presence is crucial to the engagement and performance of your team. To cast a vision or dish out “to do lists” alone isn’t enough. To be over involved, controlling, and stepping in at ever turn is too much. The end result of these mistakes is the same for a team – paralysis.
I mentioned there is a line that leaders need to walk. They need to be balanced for their teams to thrive. Perhaps worse then being stuck on either side of the spectrum is drastically shifting from one end to other, and then back again. This type of erratic, often reactive behavior can stifle a team. I’ve experienced first hand how these drastic shifts by a leader shock, confuse and paralyze a team’s creativity, confidence, commitment and contribution. I think we’ll just call these “C-4” from now on…ingredients of an explosive team (hahaha, I love being funny and clever)!
There are 5 simple principals that a leader can follow to maintain a healthy, effective presence with their teams! In this post we are going to cover the first one – Encouragement Through Involvement.
Encouragement Through Involvement
A huge mistake leaders make is being either too involved or not involved enough. Both negatively impact a team for different reasons. The leader that is too involved communicates a lack of trust, a need for control, fear, and a superiority complex. The leader that isn’t involved enough communicates a lack of interest or importance, that they don’t have time, or that they don’t care. This is the antithesis of building an engaged, C-4 team.
You see, being involved is crucial to your team’s success. Being involved builds connection. It helps your team feel as though they are valued and what they are doing has value. It’s encouraging to the team to see their leader involved. And it provides a great opportunity for you to relate to the team, serve the team, ask questions and listen.
Involvement isn’t about doing the work for the team, meddling or constantly asking for status reports. The best way to be involved is to ask our team how they want you involved. Have a conversation, and come to a mutual understanding. This allows the leader to share their preferences as well as the team to share theirs. Both matter.
You can jump in to help with a task if appropriate, you can set up consistent, planned statuses with the team to assess progress, you can periodically ask how you can support the team on their specific project or task. There are endless ways you can be involved without micromanaging.
Your team wants you to be involved. They want to be acknowledged, they want to know what you think, and they want to know that you care.
Tips to Get Involved
- Assess when was the last time you asked the members of your team how you can help them?
- When was the last time you asked for feedback about your level of involvement?
- Meet with members of your team to discuss ways that you can be more encouraging?
- Discuss with members of your team how to adjust your involvement. Do you need more, less, or different involvement?
In part two we will talk about how paying attention will empower your team. If you’d like to learn more about improving your leadership presence and measuring your involvement please contact me.