“The Future Depends on What You Do Today”

How do I lead myself and others: Nurturing your team

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. John Quincy Adams

Someone once said to me: “As the leader of this team, it is my job to sweat the assets. We have targets to achieve.” At no surprise, his staff turnover was as high as 50% per annum.

Do you truly care about your team or do you merely see them as the faceless group of individuals that have to execute on your vision?

Herewith some practical steps to follow to truly nurture and develop your team:

Get to know the person, not just the task that he/she performs

We are social creatures and it is important for each one of us to be recognised for who we are, beyond the job that we perform. It is always a good idea to take a personal interest in every team member and know who they are, where they come from, what is important to them, etc. Once you get to know a person better, you will have a clearer understanding of how you should approach him/her and make them feel valued.

Know each team member’s objectives and career expectations

Every single member in your team has a personal goal, perhaps he/she is looking for promotion or perhaps they want to be the very best at their current role. By identifying their intentions from the outset, you can work with them to develop their career path. In doing so you will keep them engaged and they will be supportive of you.

Acknowledge and use team members’ strengths and key skills

Every team member has some natural skills and talents and as a result will excel in particular roles and tasks while struggling in other areas. It is crucial that you understand the inherent skills of each team member and ensure that they spend the majority of their time utilising those natural skills and talents. When a team member is playing to his/her strengths, they get it done right the first time. This is a great motivational tool.

If a team member is particularly talented in a certain area, ask them to come up with some suggestions to further improve that particular area of the business. Not only will they enjoy it, but the entire business will benefit from it.

Give praise

Although many people might tell you that they do not need recognition, do not underestimate the importance of still giving them praise when it is due. Publicly recognise team members for their hard work, initiative or effort. It is important that you do it publicly where other team members can see and hear it. It is a great motivational tool and also makes the receiving party feel valued. You might in fact find that the receiving party puts in even more effort! Remember that you should genuinely mean the compliment!

Be open and honest about a team member’s areas for development

Why is it that leaders find it so hard to give direct and honest feedback? Often an issue is avoided until one day when you complete explode. Reality is that we all have strengths and areas for development. It is your role as a leader to point out areas for development and assist the team member in establishing a plan to overcome the area of development. The most effective leaders take the time to regularly review performance, discuss development plans and challenge team members to accomplish stretched goals.

Communication and updates

Some two months ago I focused on communication: How do I lead myself and others: The art of communication. A team that is in the know will always perform better than a team that is kept in the dark.

Be physically and mentally present

Yes, you are busy however, your personal presence is extremely important, particularly as you are seen as a role model. You have to walk the corridors and make time for people.

Set a high standard in terms of your appearance and the way you communicate on a social and work level in everything – from small talk to running meetings and giving instructions and feedback.

Be flexible

We all see the work in our own unique way. The fact that someone else sees things differently does not make them wrong; it merely means that it is different from my view of the world. Be as flexible as possible with regards to your team’s needs and views. Being inflexible makes you an autocratic leader and we have ample examples in the world of how that played out in the longer run! From time to time you might have to be autocratic; make that the exception, not the rule.

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it. Andrew Carnegie