As a leader, you’re busy. You feel pulled in different directions with seemingly competing priorities. High expectations, yours and others, set an urgent tone for every task, project, meeting, and interaction you have with your team. It’s tough out there, true? In the high-stakes reality of delivering increased productivity on a daily basis, leadership certainly has its challenges. Perhaps none is greater than the challenge of maintaining the confidence of those we lead.
In my work as an executive coach, I see leaders adopt the belief that success in their role requires they know the process, know the product, know the customer, and know the strategy. It’s where they put all their focus. They want to be competent in the business because they believe their competency is the single greatest contributor to team success and buy-in! They’re typically want all the information in oder to direct others towards what’s next. When the pressure is on, this leader usually defaults to taking control of the situation, including the people implementing the plan. They tell them what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Imagine the shock when these leaders meet serious resistance from their team.
A leader who behaves this way communicates, without ever saying it, that the team is simply a means to the business end. He or she will likely sense apathy, doubt, confusion, and even anger from their team when they press for more effort to meet their goals. And yet, these leaders struggle to figure out what’s at the root of their intuition that somethings off-balance or why the team isn’t delivering! They find themselves stuck in the middle ground of mediocre team performance and they can’t seem to shake loose. How productive can a team in this condition really be? What’s the likelihood they’ll give their best for the next new initiative coming down the pipe? What we’re talking about here is the difference between a team that does something because it’s required, and a team that does something because they want to do it! Remember this: there is a huge gap in productivity between “have to” and “want to”.
Sometimes, either out of sheer courage or frustration, one brave soul will step up and tell the leader there is a problem. Most times they don’t. The leader senses things are less than optimal and they even wonder if something is missing from their leadership.
Are you curious if your team is working out of "want to" or "have to"? I’ve found the most effective way to gauge your leadership impact is to ask your team. Guessing doesn’t work. Feedback from your peers will be incomplete. To remove any doubt, ask your team. The single greatest question I have found to diagnose your affect on the team is, “What is it like to work with me?” Once you hear the honest answers, you'll be crystal clear. When you are ready, here are three ways to get the feedback you need.
Getting Clear On How You Impact Others
1. Email your team- take the time to craft an email that communicates you truly want an honest response. Transferring responses into a single document will give you a global view of what your team thinks it's like to work with you.
2. Right a note- Handwritten notes communicate your sincerity in wanting to hear the truth. You could have each team member drop their response by your office where you can personally thank them for helping you grow.
3. Call a stand-up meeting- explain you want to grow as a leader and that the answer to this question is important to help you see the blind spots that may be in your way for serving the team to the best of your ability.
Have you ever asked your team what it’s like to work with you? Share your experience by commenting.
W. Shane McKenzie is an executive coach who helps leaders achieve greater effectiveness and become more fulfilled in their work by facilitating positive changes in their behaviors. Want more leadership growth opportunities? Schedule a free 30-minute coaching call with Shane. firstname.lastname@example.org
What others are saying about W. Shane McKenzie
“Shane has the ability to frame a conversation in a way that brings a thought or concept full circle. He’s excellent at tying each session together, which helped me recognize a pattern of growth. He’s not a “teacher”; he’s a discussion facilitator…in other words these sessions aren’t built around Shane teaching concepts. This method of facilitation opens the door for personal application, which is critical to this development process. He asked questions that forced me to think with intention.”- G. Williams, Product Manager
W. Shane McKenzie is an Executive Coach and Mentor who specializes in helping successful leaders leave their job to own a business using proven strategies to minimize risk.