Let your people “do their thing”

Recently I posted about the Ryder Cup, specifically leadership lessons from the Ryder Cup: https://rarpin.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/leadership-lessons-from-the-ryder-cup/

One thing that stood out to me as I re-read my post, is the theme around letting your people “do their thing” without excess interference from you, the leader. Regardless of your team member’s style or skill, often the best thing you can do is get out of their way. Let’s explore this.

First, let me be clear that I am largely referring to leaders of leaders. So my direct team is mostly Vice President and above-level people. The strategies I spoke about for the Ryder Cup and below are likely not applicable for more line level personnel, and with manager and director level leaders the approach will often vary greatly based on their personality, their situation with their own employees, how much experience they have, etc.

And it is always important to hold your people accountable; the question is the ways you do so. Great teams establish such strong trust in each other, are powered by such compelling visions, and are aligned around shared core values that they are able to hold each other mutually accountable. This takes a lot of pressure off you as the leader.

But, you say, my team isn’t there yet. OK, then the balance will be spending time on the accountability processes needed before achieving that state, and spending time developing those elements that will allow the team to get to the point of mutual accountability. If all you do is the direct accountability stuff, your team will never “graduate” or develop.

So don’t spend all your time personally reviewing all their work, or visiting them on the job to make sure they are doing everything they are supposed to. Make sure you can move your weekly meetings to either less frequently or where your discussion topics become more about intangibles like their team’s development and not what tasks they need to complete this week.

Rather, take the time to build an understanding of shared core values, and explore ways to reinforce those within the team and their teams as well. Spend time on projects, understanding each other’s strengths and constraints; that way you will be more confident in them in situations where it is warranted, and “check their work” in the areas where they aren’t as comfortable. Spend time coaching each other, giving each other feedback on how we can all be better leaders; “telling it like it is” is a great way to build trust, helping us realize the feedback is to help, not criticize.

In some situations, you will still need checklists and protocols, and have a “trust but verify” approach. Maybe it’s in a regulatory area, or an important area of your guest experience, or in an area that is new so we are still building our capabilities. But in many other situations, building a team that has trust and mutual accountability will let you sleep easier and spend more time on growing your business, with the knowledge that your team will always “do the right thing” and keep you in the loop on important matters that need your personal attention.



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