A leader never has all the answers, and a leader doesn’t have to. A leader appreciates their team, listens to the teams obstacles, without judgement, in order to help everyone come out ahead.
How can this be done? Simple. Ask questions and listen. Those are 2 of the ingredients you need. I could stop here, because it is seemingly simple, but we are all not perfect and may need some coaching or guidance.
As we all have ingrained thoughts, values, and beliefs, this is not always as easy as it seems. We may ask questions, but are they the right ones? Are we being polite or yelling? Let’s take an example of a team who is not doing well on their objectives – perhaps they are continually missing important due dates. You could reprimand them and yell at them, but this can accomplish fear, lack of engagement, or a loss of star employees in your team. What if instead you ask questions? And what if these questions were to work on figuring out why? For example, instead of asking “What is wrong with all of you? You know the due dates, why aren’t you meeting them?” you ask “I see we are missing a lot of due dates, why do you feel that is happening? What can we do to get back on track?” There is a huge difference, and you will likely get a lot more detailed information when asking them to provide some feedback in a coaching way.
When you ask these polite and information seeking questions, be sure to listen actively. This means you are not talking over someone mid sentence or allowing distractions to interrupt (text messages, emails, other people). It means being attentive and appreciating what they are saying, even if you disagree. For example perhaps the feedback is, “Well we are running out of time and feel the due dates are too stringent. We suggest perhaps adding a couple more team members or a review of the dates so they can be more reasonable for our team. “ This provides you more information you can then have a conversation or brainstorming around. Perhaps providing 2 more team members or moving due dates is not in the cards, but a good brainstorming exercise may provide the answers. If you yell and scream, do you feel you may get the same type of feedback? Likely not, or they will be upset, perhaps yell back, or even walk out.
So, when you feel something is not meeting targets or failing in your team, try asking questions and listen to the feedback. Once you have the feedback, take it to heart. Do not dismiss it. This is how the team or employee feels. Work with that to help move you and the team forward. Remember, if this is a new approach, the team may be hesitant. It is important to give them time, this is new for them too.
If you need some support, more information on these topics, or a workshop on leadership for your team, I am always here to coach and train you or your employees to better success. firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy team building and remember – Ask good questions and Actively Listen.