As far as I’m concerned, self-awareness is one of the keys to great leadership. If you know what motivates you, stresses you, triggers certain behaviours in you, you can then start to truly appreciate the differences in others and find it much easier to adapt your style to your team’s needs.
As a leader, would you like to see all of your team fully engaged with the company, its products, its clients, and to value their contribution to its success? Then it really helps if you understand your impact on them first.
Here’s one way of starting to think about how you could be viewing your team members now, and the impact that could be having on them, as well as your overall team results.
Do you have some team members with whom you’ve developed a great relationship, where you trust them, they work hard and are invaluable to you? And do you have other members who you don’t trust so much, you think are less capable or less motivated?
If you stop and think about it, you probably have some in both areas. However, are you treating them differently? Do you give challenging assignments to those you have a good relationship with, and more mundane tasks to those you don’t?
And what has made you think of them in this way? Could it be possible that you’re letting your distrust or negative beliefs about them influence the way you work with them? Are some of your team in your “inner circle” and some in the “outer circle”, with the former getting more of your attention, meeting time and possibly opportunities for advancement?
There may well be some legitimate reasons why some of the team are less trustworthy or incompetent, and why some get more opportunities due to their talent. However, it can be the case that your “inner circle” are more like you, easier to relate to, have a similar view on life and sense of humour. And this is usually decided at a subconscious level – you may not even be aware of it.
How do you think those in the “outer circle” relate to you, think of you and work with you? Could you be missing some exceptional creativity, innovation and engagement from those members of your team, or risk them leaving the department because they feel unsupported or misunderstood?
Building on your leadership skills and working out how to relate to all your team members is important to get the best out of them. To increase your awareness at the conscious level and develop effective communication skills, try the following steps. This is based on the Leader-Member Exchange Theory (LMX).
- Identify those in your inner circle and those in your outer circle
- For those in the outer circle, work out why they have fallen out of favour. What have they actually done, and compare the facts with your own personal perceptions and values? Do you have strong views on certain ways of doing things? Could you have blown things out of proportion?
- Have a meeting with each of the team members to re-build your relationship, encourage motivation and engagement again, and see what opportunities you have to give them more challenging work.
- Can you provide low risk opportunities to test and grow their skills? This will not only give them some advancement, but will help you to see them differently as they develop under your supervision.
From my experience through the management of small and large teams, understanding how I might react in certain situations, together with my expectations of myself and others, has really helped me to work better with those in the team. It also helps when taking on the leadership of new teams: to set expectations early and establish better working relationships quicker as a consequence.
Click HERE for more information on developing self-awareness to enhance your leadership skills and effective communication skills.