First off – I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in a few days. I suck. My apologies. I hit a wall (in my brain) that kept me from having any good ideas of what to write about. Still technically sitting at that wall, but decided that if I didn’t just push through it I would stall out. So here I am.
I’m mulling around a followup post about success – but I want to let that simmer for a bit, develop it’s flavors, before sharing it with the world. Instead, I am going to talk to you about what I’ve learned about leadership.
Currently I’m taking a leadership class as a part of my graduate program, and the last two classes featured a professional leadership consultant who came to talk to us about teambuilding (and team maintaining) and essentially the takeaway that I had from those sessions is that there are a few things that make for really good teams when they are present, and really bad teams when they aren’t.
You may be involved with a team as a part of a collaboration for work, or maybe you’re a part of a parent support organization for your kid’s school, or perhaps you’re trying to plan a family event. Heck, maybe you’re a blogger and you’re considering collaborating with other bloggers or even starting a business. Leadership and teambuilding skills come in handy in lots of different scenarios in life.
So, here they are are the 5 teambuilding and leadership skills I thought to be most critical to team success, in no particular order of importance:
- Shared Vision – if the group doesn’t agree on the destination, you’re unlikely to make it there. Make sure before beginning that there is a consensus on the goals of the group, and how to achieve them.
- Clear and continuous communication – don’t spam people’s inboxes, but regular communication can possibly head off any potential issues, or at minimum allow you to get ahead of them. Also, part of this is making sure that everyone knows what is going on, and what their role is.
- Visibility and accountability – if the leader isn’t keeping up with what is going on (visibility) then it is quite difficult to hold team members accountable for their work. Also, accountability doesn’t include doing someone’s work for them when they crap out. To prevent this, identify and address the problem early. Does the other person need training? additional resources? Brainstorm with them to solve the problem BEFORE it is time to pay the piper.
- Clearly defined expectations – one of the things I quickly learned as a teacher is that if you don’t clearly define what you are looking for (be it an assignment or even just a short answer question) you are going to get lots of… creativity. Or failure. One of the hallmarks of a good leader, in my opinion, is that they have excellent foresight to a) know exactly what it is they are looking for from the team or at least know how to achieve the goal and b) anticipate any problems that might arise and potential solutions. Let people know exactly what you want from them and you are much more likely to receive it.
- Respect and trust – if your team members don’t respect each other, then they certainly don’t trust each other, and probably vice versa. Without these two components, conflict is inevitable. Even with these two components, conflict is likely to happen (we’re human after all) – yet with respect and trust it is much simpler to resolve them as people will be willing to give each other the benefit of the doubt.
Now you certainly don’t have to be the actual leader of a group to successfully lead a group, nor should you sit back and say “not my problem” and let the group collapse around you. Anyways, this is what I learned. What do you guys think? Did I leave off anything you think is critical for good teams?