Talking Leadership

Posts Tagged ‘leadership team’

Follow Well To Lead Well

In Leadership Articles (Archives) on October 6, 2017 at 9:58 am


Great teams are ordered, and order starts on the leadership team itself. There is no place for anarchy, yet too many leaders unwittingly create more chaos and discontent than they realize. The conditions arise when we are directed to lead a mission we don’t personally agree with.

These situations are important tests for every member of the leadership team. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all failed this test at some point. So how should we deal with them? First, a good leader will welcome input from the members of his or her leadership team. Advisors help leaders find tune plans and avoid unnecessary mistakes, so advocate for your point of view as an advisor, and when you’ve had your say, fully support the direction you receive as you carry it to your team. You would expect the same from those you are leading. If you cannot do this, even when it is contrary to a choice you would have made, the time has come to leave. Anything else invites chaos and eventually conflict for you and those you lead.

In his book, Shake Hands With The Devil, Ret. Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire poignantly described his thought process at the height of the FLQ crisis of 1970, when he was asked to lead a mission he was uncomfortable with. His men had live ammo in their guns and he might have to give the order to fire on fellow Quebecers. Dallaire wrote, “If I gave the order to shoot, I could not let my men sense the slightest shiver of doubt in my belief in the rightness of that order. Any uncertainty on my part would communicate itself to my men; any hesitation on their part could result in chaos and innocent casualties. In a nanosecond I had to be able to set aside deep personal loyalties and put the mission first.”

Leaders who cannot put the mission first and follow well create three problems:
1. Divided loyalties
When the team sees you don’t fully support an initiative, they are caught between their loyalty to you and their obligation to the larger team. They hesitate, they cannot give the mission their best work and are often cited for poor performance, they become the innocent casualties of your leadership.

2. Multiplied resistance
It’s not good when anyone resists a mission their leader has charged them with, but a single individual does not have the same impact as a leader who is resisting. A leader can and will multiply that resistance across an entire team, undermining the effort for everyone who is trying to make a success of the effort.

3. Hypocritical example
If you are to become a transformational leader – someone who leads important changes – you will soon discover that leadership is not a popularity contest. There will be times when doing what is right is just not popular. Times when you must direct the team to follow you on a mission they don’t agree with. How do you do this when your example is contrary to what you ask of them?

I offer one caveat. You do not take a mission you believe is morally wrong to your team. If you find yourself in this situation, try to change your leader’s mind and if you fail it’s time to find a new shop. This said, these situations are generally rare. Most often resistance to a mission is the product of pride, preference and a need for popularity. What we’re asked to lead is not morally wrong, we just think our way is better, or we don’t want to take unpopular news to the people we lead.

A leader who follows well offers advice and then, regardless of the decision that’s made, accepts the mission and takes the hills he or she his charged to take. Anything less invites chaos, conflict and disorder. Anything less undermines the mission and the success of the team.

Interested in going deeper into timeless leadership practices? Check out the book or call or write for some individual coaching or a group workshop.

Dan Gaynor

Build Your Leadership Team

In Leadership Articles (Archives) on April 3, 2012 at 6:30 am

AS LEADERS PROGRESS INTO BIGGER ASSIGNMENTS THE SCOPE OF THEIR WORK GROWS TO INCLUDE MORE people and a larger role in the corporate mission. As the job gets bigger the need for help becomes more apparent. At some point all leaders reach this defining point. The most effective leaders build strong skilled leadership teams to help them carry the load, creating space to move into the essential culture and team building work of senior leadership. Others press on trying to do it all by themselves, they never become effective in the senior role.

The ability to build an effective leadership team is a prerequisite to corporate growth and success as a senior leader. Here are five factors to think about as you consider the development of your leadership team, they apply whether you are leading one supervisor or many leaders as a president or vice president.

Choose Well: Assembling a great leadership team starts with selecting the right people so hire and fire for character. Contrary to popular thinking, not everyone is cut out for leadership. Many of the best doers make lousy leaders. Effective leaders have specific attributes that enable success, they are unselfish, influential, courageous and empathetic to name just a few. Every successful senior executive knows that the process of building a strong capable leadership team includes hiring the right people and removing the wrong ones.

Trust them: You cannot build a strong leadership team without trusting the men and women you appoint. You must trust them to give you an honest effort and to do what they believe is right. They will make mistakes, these are part of the learning experience. Provided they are honest mistakes made in an effort to do a good job, see them as teaching and confidence building opportunities. If you beat them up for honest mistakes, you’ll teach them to avoid all risks and any initiative you hope to cultivate will be lost.

Give them a common mission: Your subordinate leaders need a clear understanding of the mission they are part of and you need to make sure they are enthused about it. Remember, they are responsible for their part of a larger mission. They can’t lead it well if they don’t understand it or care about it. There is no room for indifference on your leadership team.

Teach them: Great leadership takes time and experience. One of your most important roles as a senior leader is to pass on what you have learned to others. The right people will learn with or without your mentoring, but they’ll learn a lot faster with it, and your efforts to teach them will send a clear message that you care about them. Mentoring leaders create loyal dedicated followers.

Keep watch over them: Finally, remember that empowering subordinate leaders does not release you from your responsibility for the results they produce. You are delegating your authority. Doing the work for them is big mistake, however you must know how they are doing so you can step in when you’re needed with the feedback and coaching they need to help them succeed and build confidence.

The organization will be lifted or limited by your ability to build a strong leadership team. If you cannot empower others to help with the leadership load, you will will limit your own growth and that of the organization.

Want to go deeper on just how to build a high performance leadership team? Check out chapter eight of my book, The Heart and Hands of Leadership: The Twelve Timeless Practices of Effective Leaders, available in soft cover and in all major e-book formats.

Discussion Questions:

1. When did you first feel the need to share the leadership load?

2. Are the members of your leadership team passionate about the mission they are part of?

3. How much time do you spend passing on what you have learned about leadership to the members of your team? How do you go about it?

For more on workplace development call to arrange a workshop.

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