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If Your Team Depends On You, Your Leadership Sucks!

Warning: contains language which may be offensive to some. Effective leaders create teams that can function without them. Follow these steps to relieve the stress of a dependent team.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

I can't remember the last time I facilitated a workshop when at each break participants grabbed their mobile phones to collect multiple messages, phone the office and answer questions for their team.

If this is you, I have a message for you and I'm sorry to be so blunt but . . . Wake up to yourself!  Your leadership sucks!

Why would I say this?  Because any leader worth their salt develops their people to the point that they can function without the leader being around.

Think of these two scenarios and where you might fit.


Scenario 1 So Common But Doug Gets It All Wrong

Doug is attending a one day seminar on an industry issue.  Prior to the seminar starting, Doug spent an hour in the office.  As he arrives at the seminar he is on his phone to one of his team members telling them how to complete a specific task needed for one of their clients.  He finishes the call and walks into the seminar five minutes late. 

At the first break Doug collects four voice messages and calls a colleague to provide a progress update about a report one of his team is working on.  Doug is again late back from the break after grabbing a cup of coffee on the way in.  As he takes his seat next to Allan he whispers "geez some people are useless.  I've got to do everything myself and I don't have time to waste a day on this bullshit" (talking about the seminar). 

Allan thinks to himself " . . wanker". 

Doug leaves the seminar early and heads back to the office to do another three hours work before heading home.  When he gets home he finds a note saying . . . "Doug, your dinner is in the oven.  I've taken Josh to his school play.  Please meet us there because Josh really hoped you could see him.  It finishes around 9.00pm.  Michelle".  It's now 9.05pm.


Scenario 2 You Might Be Jealous of Julie

Julie is attending the same industry seminar and like Doug she is on her phone as she arrives.  Julie however is only calling her team to get an update on today's plans and to remind them she will be unavailable all day.  Since she has arrived 20 minutes early she grabs a coffee and catches up with three other attendees she knows and meets another person in the same line of business.

At the first break Julie checks her phone no messages. "Excellent" she thinks to herself and proceeds to the morning tea station.  During the break Julie networks with other attendees and meets someone who has experienced some similar challenges that Julie is facing at work. They compare notes and Julie gets some ideas on how to solve some problems.  They swap business cards and arrange to catch up over the coming week.

Julie also took the opportunity during the break to talk to the seminar facilitator and clarify a couple of the points that had been raised earlier in the session.

She's back on time from the break and ready for the next session.

At the end of the seminar Julie checks her phone for messages which confirm everything went well at the office today.  She then makes her way home to have dinner with her husband and daughter.

The next day Julie catches Doug in the office and says . . . "Hi Doug, wasn't the seminar excellent . . . Oh I didn't see you at the school play last night.  What happened?"

So are you a Doug or a Julie?


6 Keys to Creating Team Independence

Effective leaders develop teams and individuals who can function independently, think for themselves and make decisions appropriately. Follow the steps below and you are on your way to leading an independent team and taking the stress out of your work life.

1.   Teach team members to think for themselves don't always give them the answer to questions they ask.  This is part of the leader's coaching role.  For example when some asks

"what should I do in this situation?" you can respond with

"What would be some of your options?", "What are the consequences of each option?", "Which one should you choose?" etc

2.   Continually develop your team members having development plans in place and actioned is critical.  This doesn't have to just involve training courses but may include on-the-job training and coaching.  When people have the skills they will be confident to do more. 

3.   Delegate thoughtfully and assign responsibilities appropriately leaders delegate for a number of reasons: someone else may have more appropriate skills or time than the leader or it may be a good developmental opportunity for a team member.  Consider which tasks can be delegated, identify the appropriate person and why and then discuss with them what is required, how to achieve the task and when to have it completed.

4.   Delegate authorities to the lowest level possible (within policy of course) If you are out of the office and something needs approval or sign-off, your absence will only add to the delays. Consider the various authorities you have been assigned and wherever possible delegate these to people in your team.

5.   Empower team members to make decisions empowerment involves giving people permission to make decisions.  As part of building people's capability you must allow them to make decisions and of course accept the consequences.  Let them do this with tasks and issues that are not going to cause a crisis so that if things don't work out then it will be an opportunity to learn and not the end of the world.

6.   Trust people When team members think you don't trust them they will choose in-action over action just in case they do the wrong thing.  Alternatively they will continually defer to you for decisions and guidance.  Your role as a leader is to trust people.  Obviously trust needs to be built but remember this is a two-way street they must also trust you.

I'd like to encourage you to focus on these key steps in creating independence in your team.  Believe me, if these are applied consistently you will reap the benefits both professionally and personally.

If you are not sure where to start please contact me via email mark@intelligentperformance.com.au and we can discuss your challenges and possible solutions.  Alternatively us the Contact Us option on our website.


Julie was recently promoted to a senior executive role in her organisation because of her leadership skills.


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