It is not uncommon for leaders to get stuck managing from the top down. They see themselves as the only ones able to lead and when decisions need to be made they are the only one to make them. They create a culture of everyone looking towards the leader. When something needs to get approved, everyone looks towards the leader. When someone needs to be held accountable, everyone looks towards the leader. When they need inspiration, everyone looks towards the leader. When things fail, everyone looks towards the leader.
Such upwards leading results in tired leaders, unmotivated followers and less than ideal results.
Leaders can change all of this with a few adjustments in how they lead their teams. When leaders start thinking about leadership as a team thing, not just a boss thing, amazing things start happening on teams.
When a leader starts seeing and even expecting his or her team to be leaders, things change. Members of teams begin to care more about each other and the team’s outcomes. They begin to think like leaders and creatively contribute to the vision and goals of the team, instead of simply taking direction on the next task. They become more committed to the team overall.
But how do you get members of your team to step up and think and act like a leader. Here are three things you can do now.
1. Set the Expectation and Educate. Teams won’t starting thinking and acting like leaders until they are told to think and act like leaders.
They need to be taught that you expect each of them to raise the bar on your team, to go the extra mile, to get er done and then some! They must be taught to inspire, to serve and to care.
Everyone of us have the opportunity to lead. We don’t need direct reports to be leaders. It will be important that you regularly share with your team inspiring leadership stories, concepts and even case studies.
It is a good idea to include leadership metrics on team member’s scorecards as well. One item I always like to include when I am leading teams is, “What two-three specific things have you done to make your team better because of your leadership.”
2. Empower. Teams who feel empowered have higher morale, make better decisions, and are more efficient.
In order for members of your team to lead, you have to step out of the way. Be clear on the types of decisions they can and cannot make, but let them make decisions. As they prove themselves, allow them the authority to make more important decisions.
It is also important that each team member feels like he or she has a voice in all decisions the team is making. Leaders and the team must facilitate and set the expectation that every member of the team must provide their input and that their opinions and ideas are valued by the team.
3. Follow Up. Leaders need to follow up and talk about ways in which those they are leading are leading. Without follow up, you won’t be able to reinforce leadership successes, continue to set expectations and educate around leadership. You have to inspect what you expect.
Imagine for a minute a team full of people who really care about each other, who are regularly trying to raise the bar, who are inspiring others and holding each other accountable for performance. Would this make your job easier? Of course it would. It takes effort, but you really can get your team to start thinking and acting like leaders.
Simply expect, educate, empower and follow up.
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