Leaderwork & Teamship

Although it can be challenging, I was recently reminded that leading a team is a privilege that shouldn’t be under estimated or taken lightly.

I was asked to identify my approach to leadership in the context of teamwork. I don’t think that good leadership can exist without good team work hence the title of this post.

The analogy I often use when I’m asked about my leadership approach is that i approach it like a cricket team. On the playing field there is no clearly defined leader, each member of the team has a role to play and an opportunity to shine.

Each team member will also get an opportunity to bat – to be in the spotlight if they want to. The decision making process in cricket is often a team discussion and although the captain may ultimately have the decision-making authority it’s always more effective when the team collaborate on decision making.

Here’s my top ten tips for team-based leadership:

  1. Trust your team to get on with their work – don’t micro manage. They’ve been recruited because of their skills and abilities, let them use them.
  2. Prioritise your team’s needs. Answer any queries they have quickly (otherwise your delayed response may be holding them up). But if you get number 1 right then you’ll get less of 2.
  3. Be open to criticism – no-one is a perfect leader. I have an anonymous form and only I can access the responses. Any member of the team can submit ideas or comments.
  4. Don’t confuse being present with being productive. As we move towards a hybrid model of working trust staff to choose the best modes of working for the task(s) in hand.
  5. Seek out the voices not in the room. The loud voices will always find you, actively seek out the voices you don’t always hear.
  6. Celebrate success, even if someone progresses to a new job outside of the team this shows how their work in the team has supported their career progression.
  7. Be selfless in your time and focus your attention on the team’s collective well-being, not just your own.
  8. Be positive. There will always be some team members who have a more negative outlook. Be a source of positive energy and supportive of others.
  9. Walk the walk. When work needs doing get stuck in. Let the rest of the team see you are not just a leader but also a team player.
  10. Be authentic and true to yourself. You won’t please everyone all of the time, but always be fair, honest and treat everyone equally.

Last year I led the team through a 360 degree review process. At times this was challenging for some of the team, but ultimately we are a better team for it. One of the resulting outputs of this work was the development of our team charter. It sets out some key principles that we should all seek to uphold in everything that we do and acts as a reference point for the way we work with each other:

  • Place kindness and care for others at the forefront of all our interactions.
  • Nurture the spirit of collegiality.
  • Shape our attitudes and actions around the needs of others not our individual preferences.
  • Be inclusive when leading or working in teams.
  • Value and embrace individual difference and recognise that not everyone will have the same perspective as you.
  • Promote and encourage team cohesion and actively support others to resolve points of difference.
  • Be an effective critical friend, constructive and supportive and help each other to grow.
  • Be flexible, adaptable and open to new ways of working.
  • Keep our communications with each other polite, respectful and kind.
  • Be social, keeping mindful about how you discuss and involve each other so you don’t unintentionally exclude others from professional conversations.
  • Be selfless more often than selfish.
  • Consider and take responsibility for your own actions.
  • Take time to learn about each other’s areas of expertise for effective collaboration.

Helen Keller, American born author, equality activist and lecturer sums up teamwork wonderfully:

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”

Helen Keller

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