Great teams don’t just happen. They take work. They are built on relationships and, like any relationships, they have their ups and downs. Teams are influenced by internal and external factors and they have distinct personalities.
If you are the formal or informal leader of a team, how are you influencing the way the team functions? How are you molding the team personality? Are you promoting healthy communications? Are you keeping the focus on the collective? How do you handle challenging moments?
In working with teams of all kinds, I see how team leaders (again, the formal or informal leaders) influence team dynamics, either for the better or (inadvertently) for the worse.
Here are the 6 key ways I see formal and informal team leaders positively contribute to team function.
“How can I get anything accomplished when I have to be worried all the time about whether people like me?”
Is this thought familiar to you? It’s a common frustration for the leader who is committed to employee engagement and positive culture, yet has responsibility for making change and driving performance as well. Is it necessary to have to choose between pleasing others and performing?
This piece from Harvard Business Review offers specific about what an over-focus on being liked leads to: paralysis, over-inclusion, accommodation, tolerating poor performance. Have you seen this in action?
There is the leader who won’t make a decision and implement actions for fear of backlash. Then there is the leader who is constantly convening “input” meetings and polling people through formal and informal ways. You see a leader consumed with putting out small, internal fires in the spirit of keeping people happy, regardless of whether these actions support the progress of the business. And then there is the leader who doesn’t hold others accountable for performance.
And what is the business impact of this “pleasing” dynamic? In a word, significant.
Last year I decided to offer leadership training to clients. But then I thought, "If I have to write one more slide deck and participant workbook, I'm gonna lose it!"
"And I've got to offer robust online learning as an option, but I know how long it takes to write a course in Storyline, and there's no way I can devote that time or afford to pay for it!"
To some extent, writing training is fun to do. But holy cow - doing this well is a LOT of work. In addition to an assortment of classroom trainings, I've even gone as far as to create a highly interactive training within Storyline. That 20-minute course took me approximately 120 hours to create. Creating truly quality training, and getting an ROI on it is often elusive (which is why so many consulting firms charge an arm and a leg for their custom trainings).
So, I set off to find a high quality, flexible, off-the-shelf option that could be extended to clients at an accessible price point. After combing the market, Vital Learning was the clear winner. Truly, it's the curricula I always imagined, but always felt frustrated not to be able to create.
When I shared my adoption of Vital Learning with fellow consultants at a breakfast, they gasped. "What do you mean you bought canned training? But you can't personalize it! It doesn't reflect your perspective and experience?" They gave me serious grief, and clearly saw me as a traitor for this move.