I have the opportunity to work with a great team that is able to respond to changes easily. They are a mix of both experienced and fresh talent. Those that are experienced bring a lot of industry knowledge to the table and the newer employees bring a fresh perspective to challenges. Those who have been with the company for a long time are willing to accept those new perspectives even though they may be different. That acceptance and tolerance is crucial to an effective team.
Our team knew we had an opportunity to make change, to improve. To do so, we brought in outside help to streamline and redefine the processes that weren’t working. Sometimes, we used internal consultants or our own operations team. Making the process more effective can make all the difference to productivity and can even create an opportunity to solve problems we were previously having difficulty solving. My team has the opportunity to work on these outside projects, and making measurable change motivates them.
I also hold brainstorm and creativity sessions. We talk about how managers are utilizing their relationships with outside partners to increase productivity. I like to have them share why they are not reaching a goal instead of simply stating what they haven’t completed. When we talk about the “why”, it is easier to determine and explain opportunities.
- Being transparent with them about my goals and objectives, so they know what I expect from them.
Challenging them on how, what, and why they do things.
Focusing on explaining and encouraging them to work towards new opportunities.
Asking an open-ended question, which allows them to be creative. Then, I’m quiet and I listen.
Encouraging self-assessment, and introspection.
Giving leaders the opportunity to make what has been said unique, and then helping them make that change with their teams.
Thinking there is an area an employee can improve when they don’t have the tools to do so. It’s a leader’s responsibility to know employees’ strengths and where they have the ability to improve. Leaders also need to recognize that the employee must be aware of the areas they need to develop.
Another pitfall is not asking what your employees’ thoughts are. Change is difficult if you are telling them what to do, instead of the ideas coming from them because many times they know themselves best and will make a better effort if the ideas for change are coming from them.
Open ears. Leaders must be able to listen and actually hear what their employees and peer groups are saying. Being able to hear other points of view is essential to your personal growth and your growth as a leader.
I exercise six days a week, which allows me time to think. Respecting yourself and your body changes your mood and also gives you the ability to focus. I really enjoy swimming and do laps every chance I get. Similarly, eating a healthy breakfast is essential. Managing yourself is the single most important thing you can do to be more productive.
Managers give you a list of things to do and problems to solve-today’s current work. Leaders recognize the bigger picture and make time to ask questions like “How can we do things differently, better, and be more innovative?” “How do we differentiate?” Leaders can exist at any level and in any position. These people are often recognized and promoted quickly. They get the existing tasks done and think strategically about how to do them better. To be a leader you need to be worthy of followers.
There are too many ways to communicate. It is impossible to keep up on all forms of communication and determine which is most effective and what will get people’s attention. It’s also difficult to determine what is relevant with all of the communication flooding our inboxes. We all have a tendency to use email for all communication when a phone call or visit would be better or more appropriate.
People need to understand why they are here and where they are going. They want to know what the bigger picture is and how they fit in. Make sure that these things are communicated, understood and reinforced.
I don’t know if there is one specific piece of advice that I remember, but the general adage “You are only as good as your team” has always helped me to be a better leader. It is important to remember that you are a part of a team and you have to know what that team is. Everybody in the team needs to be on the same page to achieve good and desired results.
Interview By Andrea Lemieux