Two Things Leaders Can Do to Positively Impact their Teams
By Eduardo Lan
Leaders play a crucial role in the success of an organization. It is they who set the standard for what is acceptable and desirable within the group and the criteria by which you can get promoted or fired. As such, team members look to their leaders to gauge expected behavior. As the saying goes, “that which my boss finds interesting, I find fascinating.”
Unfortunately, these expectations are not always clear, leaving team members confused and guessing. According to a Gallup study, 50% of managers don’t set clear expectations, which ultimately has a negative impact on productivity and results (Holland, 2021).
This negative impact is further aggravated when leaders fail to show up or do so in ineffective ways. Even when leaders set clear expectations upfront, they are often too detached from their teams and the reality of the daily work and its challenges to positively impact others. This creates a leadership gap that affects both the leaders’ thinking and the team’s performance.
As part of my work with Propulo Consulting, I am often engaged in assessing an organization’s safety culture, which includes an evaluation of leadership effectiveness. It is very common for people to report that their leaders are disconnected from the work and do not understand the issues they have.
This disconnect stems from a lack of understanding. When leaders choose to focus exclusively on executive tasks to the detriment of people, they become unaware of some of the real issues and challenges their people face. They also miss a golden opportunity to impact their team members’ morale, behavior, and performance through consistent and effective interaction.
Being a leader is primarily about your impact on people, which has a lot to do with the relationship and conversations you have with them. When leaders spend the bulk of their time in their offices or conference rooms discussing strategy and reviewing results, they are unable to influence their team members directly.
Here are two things you can do to positively impact your team:
Consider this. You manage things, but lead people. Although a lot of your time at work will be spent at meetings, reviewing data, and making decisions, it is your interactions with team members that most impacts and influences their commitment and behavior. As such, getting out in the field and engaging with people directly is not just important, it is essential!
Showing up means that you make your field visits, your check ins with your team members, your one on ones, and your town halls or all-hands meetings a priority. You do this consistently regardless of whatever else is going on for you personally, professionally, or organizationally.
Some of the most influential leaders I know make it a point to be out in the field with people on a regular basis, attending daily tailboards, weekly safety meetings, and shift handovers constantly. They even show up during night shift! They understand the importance of showing up to influence their team’s morale and behavior and view these occasions as an integral part of their responsibility, not just nice-to-have, time-permitting moments.
Be Intentional in How You Show Up
How you show up matters, and it matters a lot! Unfortunately, some leaders show up in all the wrong ways, conducting their own mini audits, making people uncomfortable, and scaring them into silence and submission.
Leadership visibility is effective when it is intentional and heart felt, which means that you actively show care for people and have the right conversations. This is done by:
- Planning the visit (what will you do and how will you know if you are successful?)
- Connecting with people as human beings rather than roles
- Creating relationship by sharing personal information (family, hobbies, personal history, etc.)
- Interacting from a place of humility and curiosity
- Asking open-ended questions to drive thinking and speaking
- Communicating your safety vision and making requests, and
- Following up to share information and solutions and create accountability.
Ultimately, your ability to positively impact others is achieved through the quality of your leadership, which is all about supporting people so they can get the job done safely. As Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, once said: “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”
Holland, P. J. (2021, November 18). Setting employee expectations: Improve productivity and engagement. Leaders.com. Retrieved March 15, 2022, from https://leaders.com/articles/company-culture/settingexpectations/#:~:text=Do%20you%20know%20what%20you,can%20give%20yourself%20and%20others