Leading a team can often be an exercise in maximizing two competing concepts – getting the most out of each individual, yet getting them to cohesively work together. A leader’s job is to create an environment in which individual achievement drives teamwork, and teamwork drives individual achievement.
It boils down to motivating personal accountability. Doing so requires empowering followers to achieve. As bosses, presidents, commanders and teachers, it’s incumbent upon us to help our charges understand the value of setting goals for themselves and, even more so, meeting those goals. That’s each individual’s piece in the greater puzzle of the team. Without each person doing their part, the entire team mechanism is unable to function efficiently and effectively.
This way of thinking may seem to fly in the face of conventional or traditional rules of authority. Modern leadership is less about being singularly authoritarian. It is more about combining authority with approachability, nurture and collaboration. Our interconnected world requires this new approach in order to achieve team results, one that focuses simultaneously on the individual’s and the team’s achievements.
Here are five ways that leaders can empower their team members to achieve greater results:
- Provide freedom. Leaders that create an environment in which team members have a measure of freedom to foster an entrepreneurial mindset. When you give followers the freedom to innovate, they don’t wait for instructions. They forge ahead.
- Encourage creative problem solving. The most novel solutions come from creative minds that are allowed to imagine new approaches. In many organizations, followers are trained not to take initiative, to “color inside the lines.” Providing them with opportunities to embrace ingenuity can lead to them arriving at a great solution.
- Let them fail. There is no more powerful education than the consequences of a bad decision. While leaders would prefer that no one make mistakes, letting the team know that mistakes will be tolerated (within reason) helps them to break away from fear and to embrace the upside of possibility.
- Reward great outcomes. Positive reinforcement is key to boosting self-sufficiency and success among team members. Associate these outcomes with overall organizational values. Don’t do it once a month, though. Aim to recognize individual successes daily if possible; it can be a simple “thank you” or the proverbial pat-on-the-back.
- Get people talking. Leaders that create an idea-sharing environment automatically spur greater collaboration. This can often mean disregarding hierarchical structures; when junior members of the team are empowered to participate and offer thoughts, their vantage point can make for some very interesting and useful observations. Leaders are wise to facilitate this open exchange of ideas.