This is part one of a three-part leadership series that I will post over the coming weeks.
What is a leader’s responsibility?
Being a leader means that you are responsible for EVERY-thing that your organization does, whether you wanted them to do it or not. As a leader, you must take responsibility for building your team’s capabilities to be successful. By creating an environment of teamwork to achieve success and rewarding that success, you create a team that wants to succeed and has the capability to succeed.
Be Definitive & Decisive
When the time comes, make the decision…use all the information that you have available to you at the time to make the decision. This does not mean that you have to make a decision when it is not time. Sometimes, you have the opportunity to hold off on the decision, but only if the situation allows.
By the way, when we decide not to decide, we are still making a decision and the results are still your responsibility. If delaying the decision affords you the opportunity to gather more information and does not cause a difference in the results by waiting, then take the time when needed. When a decision is delayed because you are unwilling to take responsibility for the choice, you are still responsible for the results or lack thereof. The art of decision making is just that, an art. There is no cold hard science or formula to know that you can wait to make the call, or if you jump immediately, that the results will be better.
Once the decision is made, own up to it, right and especially wrong. Be clear and direct, dabbling in the gray area of yes or no, reflects back on what I said above, be decisive. As a leader, you have to be decisive in your decision and demonstrate that you are definitive in why you made that choice. (I won’t discuss failure or recognition of wrong decisions here.) Own up to the wrong decision, learn your lesson and don’t repeat it. Continuous improvement and education should be your desire.
In the end, it is about making a decisive decision. A leader must have confidence in his or her choices and intuition. If you are not confident in your decision, how can you expect your team to be confident in the decisions you make?
Standards are important to establish, make clear and uphold as a foundation of the organization to act and perform. A leader sets the standards so, everyone on the team knows what is expected and what parameters must be applied. When a leader creates standards for his or her team, the team members know what is expected of them and how to perform. By establishing clear standards, the team has a measure of performance and expectation. Standards can range anywhere from dress code to delivery of a product. As long as the standards are achievable and understandable, and, don’t forget reasonable, the team members know what is expected of them in their performance across the team.
Standards are set for the team, and need to be applied to the team. By allowing some team members to not adhere to standards and enforcing the standard on others, a leader can cause a deep division in the team. For example, if all team members are to arrive at 8am every day for work, but one member, Member ‘D’, is continuously late, and this behavior is allowed to continue by the leader, this can cause significant issues in the team in other performance standards. Everyone on the team, must uphold the standards, especially the leadership of the team. As a leader, you cannot expect anyone on your team to act differently than you do. If you set the standards, you must adhere to them. Lead by example.
Culture of a team? you may ask yourself? Yes, culture. The culture of the team is how they operate, integrate and succeed together. It is a combination of the tasks the team performs, the personality of all team members, including the leader, and the larger environment of where the team works. This is what enables the members of the team to work together day in and day out. The culture can be positive and encouraging or it can be adversarial and destructive; more than likely, it’ll be somewhere in between. One of the unique things about the culture of an organization is that it stands true and endures. Generally, as people join the team, their personal input may influence an established culture, but rarely does it change an established culture. If change is to occur it takes time and effort and sometimes, outside efforts from consultants and coaches.
In Part 2 of this series I discuss the challenge of leadership and trust of your team