5 ways to support your team and create more impact
Most organizations are designed with a traditional hierarchy where very few people sit at the top of the company and most of the managers and employees flow from the middle to the bottom. Although the use of positional power within these contexts can be tempting, the best leaders flip the script and serve their employees by putting the employee’s needs above their own.
And there’s no denying it! To serve your employees well can be HARD and TIME consuming. But, if it’s done well and consistently, it will improve corporate culture, decrease voluntary turnover, and draw out the best from your employees.
So what are some ways you can better serve your teams and create more impact? Here are five that will honor their most unique gifts.
1. Develop character. Then career trajectory.
If you want to fully realize the potential of each person, you need to help them develop “who they are” before “what they do”. If there isn’t deep self-awareness being formed among you and your direct staff that focuses on personal values, priorities, energy, and joy, then you risk accidentally coaching your team into the wrong positions leading to overworking, bitterness and resentment. In contrast, by helping your people define who they are and how they show up in the world, you empower them to see their influence – both good and bad – on the people in the organization. They can more genuinely lead their teams and develop leadership skills in others that compliment their limitations. And they will mature into bigger responsibilities more seamlessly.
2. Honor your team by building up their gifts. But don’t avoid their limitations.
Each individual in your organization has been brilliantly designed. By helping your team uncover and develop their unique strengths and by offering encouragement to them when they feel they’re falling short, you become a partner in their overall health and wellness helping them achieve what they can’t quite see yet as possible. This is powerful. But honoring them just doesn’t come in the form of recognizing their gifts. It also comes in the form of being honest when someone isn’t quite meeting the performance expectations that were set. It’s easy to fall into the trap of either a) complete avoidance or b) shifting responsibilities to someone else. But neither of those options are helping serve the person in question. Instead, ask questions to uncover barriers that were in their way. Let them find a new path that may lead to a better outcome. They’ll be more empowered and perhaps more resourceful in finding innovative ways to overcome challenges.
3. Listen. Incarnationally.
I know, I know. Queue eye roll. Listening is always at the top of every soft skills development list. And for good reason. But do you know what it means to listen incarnationally? Pete Scazerro in Emotionally Healthy Relationships describes it as a way, “to listen at a heart level with empathy, attuned to the words and nonverbal communication of another person. So that the other person feels felt by you.”
A good quote shared in Pete’s book is that of David Ausbuerger. He says, “being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.” Let that sink in.
This isn’t a romantic love I’m talking about here. It’s a love that honors the person that’s in your stewardship. You seek true understanding of their challenges, their motivations, their wins, and their aspirations. You don’t have to agree with them, but you show them that you can hang in between the tension of two ideas.
As a leader, this helps to completely uncover the gifts of your team and to piece together some of their deepest motivations. It offers a lens into their world. To truly understand where you can be of service and remove obstacles. Or where you can be their biggest fan. For the team, it fosters a sense of trust that’s indescribable, loyalty and commitment to the business.
4. Be accessible. For real.
In my practice, most of my clients currently in leadership positions believe they are accessible to anyone throughout their organizations. However, after some deep questioning around why they’re facing certain challenges, it becomes increasingly clear that they are in fact not fully accessible past their direct staff. Most of the time it’s not intentional. They’ve empowered their team to own critical initiatives and make tough decisions. Which is GOOD. But sometimes that leads to the team becoming strict gatekeepers and acting like a human mote around the leader. There is good reason for this. Allowing your boss to talk with anyone in your organization can put you in quite a vulnerable place. You can’t possibly control who says what. But by having staff block key voices, employees will feel like they can’t speak to you, ask questions, or share feedback. It immediately kills morale and trust. And worse, employees tend to make up stories about why they can’t speak to their leader which spread like wildfire throughout the organization.
5. Invite people into your journey. Better yet, ask them to invite you into theirs.
As leaders, we steer strategic decisions and come to know of certain plans and initiatives before anyone else. We’ve had time to thoroughly examine our thoughts and feelings about what we need our teams to accomplish. So when we begin to communicate big changes or new programs, sometimes it surprises us when we receive loads of resistance. One way to avoid that is to invite a few people into your decision making journey. This shouldn’t be EVERYONE. But it should include trusted advisors at various levels that will give you an honest pulse on how initiatives will actually impact day-to-day jobs. This helps you create strong pre-mortem habits identifying potential emotional barriers while creating early solutions on how to overcome them.
What’s even more important is to genuinely ask to be invited into their journey as they roll out various initiatives led by your vision. This could look like skip level dialogues, jumping into a review meeting to answer any questions, sending short polls to see how people are feeling, and even hosting a networking event focusing specifically on building awareness of transformation. Being genuinely in touch with your people creates a safe space where people can be who they are and apply their gifts with encouragement and without fear of judgement.
To wrap this up, the above examples are just a few ways leaders can better serve their teams ultimately leading to more meaningful impact. It takes time, commitment, and consistency to develop these habits, but every drop of effort is worth it.
Interested in instituting these practices in your organization or receiving coaching that will help you perfect these skills? Book a call with me to discover how you can support your teams and create more impact.