Leadership: Focus On Your Team

It seems more and more I read where people are speaking about their limitations in the workplace.  The economic downturn has caused us to cut back, hunker down, retrench, re-evaluate, re-strategize and review just about everything.  But there are several things we can do to influence our situations.  As John Maxwell has so aptly said, "Leadership is influence."  So let's discuss one of the ways you can exercise positive leadership to influence your workplace for the better.

It's a simple thing, but sometimes the simple things are most easily overlooked.  Do you know your co-workers?  In Patrick Lencioni's The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, he identified one of the signs, the one the leader had the most control over, as anonymity.  Workers want to be known.  Do you know about your teammates' family members, interests and hobbies.  Is what they're doing away from the office important to you?  Do you know if their parents are alive or not?  Do they have siblings?  Do you know what they did before they came to work for you?

If you have a large team, this is not something you can do overnight.  Unless you've been doing this actively for some time, you'll have to practice.  Your current level of knowledge rests on what has been important to you.  To increase the level of knowledge, you must exert the energy to establish a new status quo.  But you can do it!

Have you ever noticed that if, as you're driving, you take your eyes off the road for a period of time, you begin to drift in the same direction you're looking.  (Don't try this, just think about it!) It's a famous rule in our family since I'm usually the driver and I also tend to be the most interested with my surroundings when in an unfamiliar area.  I'll drift in the direction I'm looking.

The point: your focus determines your direction.  To know of your teammates, focus on them instead of just their projects, milestones, deadlines, or tasks.  True leadership is about people, not projects or tasks.

So here are some things you can begin to do so that you can know your team better:

  1. Focus on your teammates.  Exercise the effort to appreciate them.
  2. Think about what you don't know.  Determine in advance to learn something new about each person each day.
  3. Practice recall.  Ask your teammates for updates on things that are happening in their personal life.  Did they get to play any golf last weekend?
  4. Make sure you're always asking questions of everyone you meet.  Replace "how are you doing?" with "how is your wife, son, favorite team, etc.?"  You'll find out about your teammates more quickly.
  5. Optional: If you're a Christian, pray for your teammates.  I'm sure they won't mind and I know it makes a difference.  People praying for me have made a huge difference in my life.

Increase your leadership output every hour by just exercising true interest in people!.  We all want to be noticed.  We all have a story to tell.  You impact others lives by simply being interested.

And this list isn't all inclusive.  Please add comments below related to additional ways you stay motivated to know your team.  Or tell as story of how knowing a teammate helped them succeed.  Your experience will help the rest of us.  We'd all like to hear about it.


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