Resolutions for Leading Your Team Better in 2022
Leadership is no easy task and requires considerable ongoing effort to get it right. With 2022 on the horizon, now is the time to identify how you will be intentional in your leadership growth next year. Here are some simple yet powerful suggestions to help you become a more effective leader.
Lean into difficult conversations.
When we are faced with a difficult conversation that we expect will be uncomfortable, it is natural to want to avoid it for as long as possible, hoping that it will go away or somehow resolve itself. When we do this, we run the risk of never actually solving the problem (in fact, it will probably get worse), and we also dread the conversation in the meantime.
This year, embrace the discomfort and have these conversations right away. You will find that issues will be resolved more quickly, and you will avoid the stressful anticipation of a conversation that probably won’t be as bad as you think.
Focus on the little things (make it personal).
The big things in business like strategy, staffing, training, sales, and performance are crucial. These are what enable our businesses to thrive. However, while the big things are vital, people remember the little things. For example, something as simple as inviting a different team member to lunch every week or saying some words of recognition at a team meeting for a job well done.
I would challenge you to go even further by adding a personal touch whenever possible. People find it especially thoughtful when you do something for them that is clearly tailor-made just for them. Rather than giving someone a generic gift card, pay attention to their interests or hobbies and give gifts that solve a problem or enrich their life.
Adding a personal touch isn’t limited to just gifts; the key is to show you care. It doesn’t cost anything to tell someone that you hope they enjoy their upcoming trip and make recommendations or ask a team member how their child’s team did in the big game over the weekend. These are no-cost ways to connect with and energize your team in a big way.
Give trust a chance.
I don’t just mean trusting that someone will do something that they say they will do. On our team, trust means an open flow of communication without fear of unreasonable repercussions, belittling, or exclusion. Without trust, people may feel they need to bend or hide the truth to protect themselves or their peers. Some team members may hold back great ideas for fear of judgment.
It may seem soft but give it a chance. I will not pretend that managers don’t sometimes need to be tough, but these qualities don’t need to be mutually exclusive; in fact, being direct is much more effective when there is already a foundation of trust in the relationship. The key to building trust is first demonstrating that you care for each of your team members. Then, make sure that they understand that you are committed to helping them reach their goals and that you believe they are an important part of that team effort. This way, if problems arise later, your team will trust that you truly do have their best interest at heart.
Ask for criticism.
If you consider yourself a great leader, but your team does not, are you really a great leader? Even if your team does consider you a great leader, don’t you owe it to them to become even better? The best way to do this is what is also the most uncomfortable way for many leaders – ask your team for criticism and humbly accept their response. Notice I did not say ask your team for feedback. What if the only feedback they give you is positive because that’s all they think you want to hear? If you want honest critical feedback from your team, you need to be crystal clear that you’ll take positive feedback, but what you’re really after is constructive feedback, the stuff you can act on.
It isn’t enough to ask just once – you will need to ask repeatedly for the rest of your career as a leader. After your team gets used to being asked and finds that they can answer without fear of danger (this requires trust), then you will start to get really great feedback that opens your eyes to improvements you can make that you may never have known about otherwise.
Have more fun.
You are entitled to have fun at what you do. After all, you spend most of your waking time doing it! If you are not having fun with your job, and specifically with the team you are leading, this is the year to ask yourself what you need to do to make it so. Leaders have more energy and a better attitude when they are enjoying themselves, and teams with energetic leaders tend to perform better.
If you are already having plenty of fun, you are not off the hook yet! Is your team having fun too? If your answer is no, you should make it your mission to help them find ways to better enjoy their work. Chances are that if you do this, you will get better results as a team.
Every team is different, but I am confident that these practices can help you become a better leader and vastly improve your company culture. If you already practice some or all of them, that’s great! If not, I hope that you’ll accept the challenge to begin working these practices into your leadership style in the new year.
Here at KiteTech, we are passionate about developing leaders and a team culture that thrives no matter the circumstances we face. One way we do this is by keeping our core values at the forefront of everything we do. We call them Our Flight Plan, and they guide our day-to-day interactions internally and with our clients. As a team, we are also committed to taking advantage of the many resources available to help us grow and improve our leadership skills. Below are some great books that have inspired me to lead my team differently in the ways mentioned above.
Lean into difficult conversations: Crucial Conversations – Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition: Patterson, Kerry, Grenny, Joseph, McMillan, Ron, Switzler, Al: 8580001040288: Amazon.com: Books
Focus on the little things: Tiny Noticeable Things – Amazon.com: Tiny Noticeable Things: The Secret Weapon to Making a Difference in Business (Audible Audio Edition): Adrian Webster, Liam Gerrard, Gildan Media: Books
Give trust a chance: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable: Lencioni, Patrick: 0352713295663: Amazon.com: Books
Have fun: The Humor Advantage – Amazon.com: The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank eBook : Kerr, Michael: Kindle Store
Ask for criticism: Thanks for the Feedback – Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well: Stone, Douglas, Heen, Sheila: 9780143127130: Amazon.com: Books