Team-oriented leaders are far more rare than than we’d like to admit. And that’s at least partially because it’s so uncommon for leaders and managers to think in terms of a team being a group of equals rather than it being comprised of a “boss” and “subordinates.” (And yes, I understand that on teams, people “report” to other people. In turn, I hope you understand that people reporting to other people does not necessitate them being less than equals.)
It’s also more rare than we think because of our tendency to lack the self-awareness to realize where we may not be quite as team-oriented as we’d like to think we are. This isn’t a slam at all; rather, it’s a common thing. We’re human. Self-awareness is always going to be something that’s a struggle for us.
Here are nine things team-oriented leaders do.
#1: Team-oriented leaders decentralize “power”
Leaders like this gladly “give away” power and believe in the ultimate potency of a truly empowered team. Old school managers and executives believe power comes from their position, and respect ought to be afforded them based solely on that.
#2: Team-oriented leaders share information
They tend to share information openly. Old school managers and executives maintain a stranglehold on information and control what’s released, how it’s released, and often twist and shape the message to suit their agenda.
#3: Team-oriented leaders seek out formal and informal feedback on an ongoing basis
They actively and regularly seek questions, suggestions, and feedback from their teams. Old school managers and executives sometimes listen to suggestions and questions from their team, though they’ve often already made up their minds.
#4: Team-oriented leaders cultivate psychological safety
They do the hard, necessary work to create the sort of safe environment within which folks actually feel safe enough to provide real, honest feedback even—and perhaps especially—when they know their boss isn’t going to like it.
#5: Team-oriented leaders communicate *with* their teams…
…while other managers communicate *to* their teams. (See the difference? If you don’t, try asking your team; they likely do.)
Team-oriented leaders prefer real and meaningful discussion and collaborative brainstorming. Old school managers and executives often choose to almost exclusively deliver strategies and decisions to their teams.
#6: Team-oriented leaders trust their teams to make decisions
This goes hand-in-hand with several of the other things mentioned here, and the trust mentioned here is one based on vulnerability; but these leaders trust their teams to make certain decisions and move. Old school managers and executives only approve time and resources when it can be proven necessary approximately seventeen different ways.
#7: Team-oriented leaders allow for their team members’ flexibility
Leaders who allow for their team members to adapt to situations and circumstances are leaders who will see their team members grow, thrive, and become increasingly innovative and creative. They understand and allow for flexibility as environments necessitate it. Old school managers and executives are sticklers for once-defined, uber-specific roles and responsibilities and absolutely nothing outside those specified things.
#8: Team-oriented leaders focus on serving
They focus on serving their teams, work to figure out root causes of any issues, and focus on long-term stability rather than short-term appearances. Old school managers and executives are constantly in crisis mode over something (and if there’s not anything to be in crisis mode over, they may very well fabricate a crisis themselves), and are always scurrying around from thing to thing, focusing on what feels most urgent, pressing, or visible to others who might be looking in.
#9: Team-oriented leaders understand accountability differently
These leaders understand accountability differently, seeing it as more of an ongoing relationship and understanding it as something that they and the team share together. Old school managers and executives manage performance through annual reviews and “coaching” that takes place when something doesn’t go the way they want it to.
So the contrast between building a team and simply managing a group of cogs in the corporate machine becomes pretty clear the more you take the time to think it through, and the benefits of the former should also be pretty clear. Now to be sure, building a team like this takes a lot of hard work; and it certainly takes a different approach to leadership and team building, which is why we do just that at The Mojo Company. Give us a shout if you want to chat about how we build high-performing teams.