If you’re like most leaders, the arrival of Fall marks the perfect opportunity to assess where we are today in term’s of achieving our yearly goals, and what we should be focusing on to ensure a successful outcome for the end of this year.
This also provides leaders with the opportunity to ensure they are putting in place measures that promote collaboration and team cohesiveness, something that we can achieve by employing the three easy steps I describe below.
Now to be clear, I consider these steps to be easy because they can be employed by everyone, regardless of your position or title. The only challenge you have to address is making sure it becomes a consistent element to the way you lead.
1. Provide clarity around expectations
One of the common challenges I hear from many leaders is this growing focus to just ‘get things done‘. For many leaders, this becomes a major distraction as they end up paying more attention to issues that are considered urgent, but are not critical to achieving their long-term goals.
This tendency to just get things done becomes even more pronounced as we start planning out what needs to be completed to achieve our year-end goals. Now for most leaders, the focus of such efforts tends to be on assigning tasks that will ensure a successful outcome. While this is a necessary step, it only reflects half of the process.
The other critical measure we need to take is to provide clarity over what our employees can expect from us in terms of resources, support, as well as what we’ll be focusing on as being mission critical.
In other words, leaders need to provide clarity to their employees in terms of what’s expected of them, as well as what employees should expect from their leaders [Share on Twitter].
This way, we’re reinforcing the message that we’re in this together, fostering a greater sense of collaboration between both employees and their leaders.
2. Celebrate the journey that got you to today
In some of my talks, I point out the importance of building a sense of connection and belonging to our ability to create not only engaged, but empowered teams within our organization. And one of the ways I share for how leaders and their organizations can accomplish this is by honouring the journey you collectively took that got you to where you are now. And there’s hard science that backs up why this works in terms of engendering collaboration.
Neuroscientists have found that when we perceive ourselves as being part of a collective effort, our brain actually creates an internal map of “we”, where we view our contributions in the context of how it helped with achieving this larger, collective endeavour.
An example of this is found in the behaviour of sports fans who sport lucky shirts or here in Canada, grow beards during the hockey playoffs as they root for the home team. For many fans, this is both an expression of solidarity for their beloved team, but also a way to create a connection with their team’s ability to win.
In terms of your organization, what this means is that you should use this time to remind your employees of the challenges they had to overcome this year and with it, the successes they achieved, as well as important lessons learned along the way.
Remember, through our leadership, we create the narrative that connects our employees’ contributions to our shared purpose and why these efforts matter [Share on Twitter].
3. Leave spaces for others to contribute
Naturally, when you get closer to the finish line, there’s a greater zeal to push yourself harder in order to reach that targeted end point. But if you want to foster a culture of collaboration within your organization, it’s important to balance this drive with the need to create an environment where your employees are equally invested in that final outcome beyond their individual efforts.
It’s a reality Allan Mulally faced when he took on the role of CEO at Ford in 2006. At the time, Ford had nurtured a culture of internal competition to the point where team leaders would rather hide any failures or obstacles impeding their ability to hit their targets than ask other teams for help.
But rather than push his own ideas or perspective on what they should address, Mulally instead focused on encouraging the other leaders to share what they thought would have the biggest impact, or what was the more critical issue they should address, in order to achieve their objectives. And the result was one of the most impressive corporate turnarounds in history, moving Ford from the verge of bankruptcy to earning annual profits since 2009.
Mulally’s example reinforces the importance for why leaders need to make sure they leave spaces for others to contribute. That their employees can see a tangible impact in how their contributions affect the collective efforts of their organization.
After all, if we want our employees to be invested in our organization’s vision, we have to make sure we are creating opportunities for them to contribute in a meaningful fashion [Share on Twitter]. That we’re creating an environment where our employees empower themselves to bring their best efforts because we create that space for them to want to fully participate because they care.
Again, as I said at the beginning, each of these measures is easy to employ by leaders everywhere. The only challenge you need to address is how you’ll ensure this becomes an innate part of how you lead your team going forward, both in terms of the rest of this year, as well as in the months and years to come.