I have seen many leaders become so focused on achieving their goal that they forget to consider who they are leading – and the best way to lead them.
With the facts, figures and deadlines we use for planning and decision making keeping us focused on the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ we do things on a daily basis, we can fall into the trap of forgetting the most important part of our leadership – ‘who’ we are leading.
With different ways of communicating and learning, different personalities and priorities, and even different ways to be motivated and recognised, you need to get to get to know your team to bring out the best in them.
Here are my four tips to help you:
1. Ask great questions
There is great power in asking great questions. You can extract information, ideas and feedback that you would never have ordinarily received simply by asking the right question.
But be mindful about asking too many questions in one go though, you want to be seen to be interested not interrogating.
Here are 12 questions to get you started:
- What would make your role more interesting for you?
- What changes do you think our team would benefit from?
- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
- How do you like getting feedback?
- What makes you feel like a valuable part of the team?
- What are your strengths?
- What do you love most about your job?
- What gives you energy both at work and personally?
- Is there any part of your role that you feel you need more training/developing on?
- What’s next for you in your career?
- How do you define success both personally and professionally for you?
- What do you need from me?
The answers your team gives you will not carry any value if you don’t listen, consider, record and action what they tell you. Ask yourself “how can I use this information? How can I align their needs with our goals?”
3. Use their language
Mirror your teams speech, tone and language. If they have interests, use analogies and phrases that refer to them. For example, if they love baseball, use phrases like hitting a home-run or covering all bases.
4. Watch and observe
You can learn a lot about people simply by observing them as they go about their day. How do they engage with people? What are they most confident and comfortable doing? What makes their eyes light up? What makes them stressed? Where do they shine?
What steps can you do today to get to know your team better?