A Leader Can Build a Real Team

September 9, 2021

By Dave Bushy

A few weeks ago, I published a blog about “Finding My Solid Ground.”  The article struck a chord with my readers, many of whom followed up with questions and comments. 

One person asked, “Do you have any ideas on how I, as a leader, can help establish solid ground for the members of my team?”  As I sat with the question, I replayed sessions with clients and conversations with colleagues where that very idea had been raised – indeed on how a leader can build a real team.

Contextually, of course, the most effective time and place to establish solid ground for your team is at the very beginning of your leadership journey with them.  “Well begun is half done,” is an aphorism to remember for any of us embarking on a new endeavor and most especially when we take on the mantle of leadership within an organization or business.  

For those leaders who might have already been in a role for a period of time, though, it is never too late to begin to “reset” your approach with those you serve.

Here are some ways a leader can set the foundation of solid ground for their people and in the process build a real team:

  1. Model Servant LeadershipKnow that your job as a leader is to serve your team members by providing a listening ear, communication, collaboration and accountability – for yourself and everyone on the team.  Remind yourself of that every day – great leaders live and breathe this philosophy.
  • Bring out the intellect of others – no need to display your own!   Recognize that although you have well developed sides, appreciate that you need not be the smartest person in the room – remember that the intellectual capacities of any two people on your team are inevitably more capable and imaginative than just one of you!  Your job is to encourage ideas and help the team integrate them into innovative solutions – bring your own brain and just add it to the problem-solving sessions rather than feeling that you have to own all the answers.
  • Don’t sugarcoat the challenges – embrace them!  This is certain – issues and problems always exist.  And another thing is equally certain – you as a leader need to transmit your very real belief that your team, working together, is equal to any challenge they face.  Teams are not created to walk away from problems – they were designed to solve them!
  • Be willing to be vulnerable – Oftentimes that means admitting that you can’t do it all alone and that you need support from others.  It is counterintuitive to some that by being vulnerable you will inspire confidence in your leadership.  But it is true.  That includes accepting your imperfections and those of your colleagues and team – and realizing that the team as a system can only expand its range and grow through learning from errors and mistakes.  My colleague Lisa McNeill eloquently addresses the empathy, compassion and understanding that serves a leader and their team in that development.
  • Never forget to celebrate your team members – Remember – it is not a leader’s job to just set out goals and expect them to be achieved. Rather, it is your job to help everyone appreciate the challenges they face, celebrate the capabilities the team members possess and help them grow even more.  As my colleague Allison Iantosca noted in a recent blog, our teams are made up of grown-up employees and if we treat them that way it helps build their capabilities even more.  And don’t be afraid to tell those you serve how much they mean to you – it doesn’t hurt to say the words out loud that a wise person once told me, “We’re better because of our people,” because indeed we are!

Each person is unique and yet each of us have common needs, beliefs and values embodied in the concepts included above.  Those who seek to grow – as leaders and as fellow travelers on the planet – can best use these ideas not as a checklist of things to do, but instead as a way of being.  For that is our essential essence as human “beings,” isn’t it?

Dave Bushy of Boston Executive Coaches – bostonexecutivecoaches.com – is a former U.S. Army officer and senior airline executive who works with leaders throughout American industry. 

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

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