There is no escaping the political climate in America these days. Though it certainly has become a reality TV show, we should all realize that there are some lessons we can take away from it.Especially for those who manage teams, it can provide insights into what not to do as well as how we can become better team leaders.
- It’s not just the words.If you have something important to communicate, do not just send it in a written document and assume it gets read. If you must, mark it as a priority and follow up to make sure people read and understood it. Even better, ask your team members to confirm they read it. If you are going to give the message in person, make sure your delivery is appropriate. What should people come away with? Consider the recent Mueller testimony before the Congressional Committees. His low energy, inaccurate settings on his hearing aids and limited comments conveyed to many that the findings on his report were not conclusive at all. Unfortunately, quite a few politicians spun his performance and words to mean very little, when in fact they were extremely important. Think how different the message would have been if his delivery had been more robust, energetic and forceful— even if what he said was the same. Someone once told me “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”
- Repetition works wonders.If there is something important that you need your team to embrace, keep saying it. If you are not clever enough to make a slogan out of it, that’s fine, but the more you repeat something, the better your team will remember it and take it to heart.
- Never belittle those who work with you.It destroys trust. People say, “what goes around comes around,” and this is true. If you have issues with other people, speak (not confront) to them directly in a manner that suggests that you are working with them to make things better. “I would like to speak with you about improving our ability to work together.”-is better than “You screwed up.”
- Be truthful and honest. We are all human and want to create stories that are favorable to ourselves. But once you establish a pattern of lying, half truths or talking behind people’s backs, you undermine your ability to lead your team. It soon becomes apparent that everything you say must be “taken with a grain of salt.” I once rented space from someone who always said “Ok, but the price is just between us. I’m giving you a better deal, and I can’t let others know about it.” What did that tell me? This ploy is a negotiating tactic that this person says to everyone.
- Humility goes a long way.No one is “perfect.” It is ok to be human and to admit that some of our decisions are not always the best. Work to learn from and remedy those situations. Do the right thing.
- Be committed if you expect your team to be committed.If there are rules (and laws) that you expect others to follow, you must follow them also. Otherwise the message you send is “some people are more equal than others.”
- Work to keep your team.If you have a team that has been with you for years, it speaks well of your leadership. People don’t stick around toxic bosses that they can’t work with. Of course, you will have personnel changes, but if your team is a revolving door, then you have a problem. Coach and mentor those who are under-performing. Listen to your staff members and encourage ideas for improving. These are the hallmarks of great team leaders.
- Celebrate with your team and give recognition when it is due.This “psychic income” is more important than most managers realize. Praise them for what went right -not just point out what went wrong.