We all want a team that is empowered, enabled and energized. The alternative is simply hard work and causes a much bigger workload for the leader. When I was leading teams, the one thing I wanted to achieve for my leadership group was to empower them to make decisions, to feel confident enough to act without doubt and to know that I had their back. I often put them in uncomfortable situations to encourage them to grow and develop, I coached them often and provided feedback consistently. It wasn’t easy and it was hard work to get them to a certain level, but when we got there it enabled me to elevate my own leadership and things became much easier.
There is a lot of talk about high performing teams and what to do to achieve this. Some suggestions are quite complex and can come at a significant expense; others are a little Pollyanna and a bit like wishful thinking. However, when I reflect on what the key things were for me, what best practice is, there are three key factors that contribute to building an empowered team.
These three things are:
Coaching is critical to building an empowered team. This is different to on the job training, this is dedicated time to work on amplifying each individuals strengths and instilling confidence in their ability. It’s about troubleshooting and problem solving but not providing all the answers. Often, leaders believe they don’t have the time for coaching their team, but if you want an empowered, high performing team, you need to prioritise this to the very top of your list and simply make it happen. The time you invest in this is time you will get back in spades.
By challenge, I mean encouraging your team members to step outside of their comfort zone. To try something different, for example, a new business development technique, a new questioning technique, attending a networking event or running a client or team meeting. Things that they may traditionally look to you to do or facilitate, challenge them to do it and work through the situation with them. Don’t just suggest and run especially if they are feeling fearful but provide an outline of the situation that they can colour in and inject with their own personality.
When they conquer the challenge, leverage this for the next, provide praise and build their confidence. This can work incredibly well to enable your team to achieve things they never thought they would.
As Tony Robbins says, “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, it’s what we do consistently.”
Consistency is key, particularly with the coaching component and feedback that you provide your team, but also critically for your leadership. One of the biggest complaints from people is that leaders can start out with great ideas, such as one and two above, and then get busy causing these initiatives fall off the side of a cliff and things return to status quo. Frustrating! The success of your team and your leadership depends on how consistently you execute and how consistently you ‘are’ as a leader. If you coach consistently you will achieve growth and empower your team to be the best version of them that they can be, you’ll identify gaps and training opportunities, you can also identify when someone is struggling mentally and intervene as appropriate. Whatever initiative you implement, ensure you stick to it. Consistent is one of the most frequently used words I chat about with my clients. Because it makes the biggest difference to outcomes.
We can all build an empowered and high performing team but it’s not going to happen by reading this article. It will happen if you implement and execute consistently. There is one thing that I can guarantee you though, when you achieve what you set out to do and you have an empowered team, your role as leader is just so much easier and you can focus on the strategic stuff, the exciting stuff that leaders don’t get to do when they are stuck in the doing. All it takes is a decision and a change of some habits – something that leaders should be role modeling so this is a great opportunity for you to do just that.