Leadership is a doing discipline. Behavior’s all you’ve got to help your team and your team members succeed. Behavior is what you say and what you do, nothing else. That’s not much, but it’s enough. Here are five ways you can use what you say and do to do a better job.
Touch Base Frequently
Some bosses only call or come by when there’s something special going on. They might be bringing praise, or they might be bringing bad news, but team members react in the same way.
Because your team members are human beings, they’re going to treat your imperial arrival as if it’s something bad until proven otherwise. That means that their defense shields go up as soon as you walk in or as soon as they see your name on caller ID. It’s real hard to build trust and a high-performance culture when that happens.
When you touch base a lot, you become part of the regular work day. You become more of a human being, one your team members can talk with.
Have Real Conversations with Team Members
Real conversations are the way that you build relationships and trust. I’m not talking about idle chit-chat or “small talk.” I’m talking about conversations about things that matter to you and to your team member.
A conversation is an exchange between adults. Some of your conversations will be about work, but many will not. And don’t worry about what you’re going to talk about. If you treat your team member as another human being, you won’t have trouble finding common ground. When you do, you won’t have any problem having conversations, either.
Use Every Encounter with a Team Member to Make Some Progress
This doesn’t have to be big progress. Your progress can be moving the relationship forward through a conversation. You can help a team member make some progress in their ability to do the work or to achieve a goal that’s important to them. The two of you can make progress on a project that you’re working on.
Deal with Stuff Promptly
Stuff includes questions, problems, challenges, and opportunities. Dealing with stuff promptly makes it more likely that everything will end well. Delaying action until “the moment is right” usually does not.
Model the Behavior You Want
When you become a boss, you gain an amazing amount of influence. Your team members watch you to get clues about how they should act. That’s a superpower. If you want them to be honest, tell the truth. Work hard and they’re likely to follow suit. It works the other way, too. If you play politics, so will they. If you blame others for your mistakes or take credit for achievements you didn’t earn, don’t be surprised if your team members do the same thing.
Use your behavior (what you say and what you do) to influence the behavior of your team members and make it more likely you’ll get the results you want. Touch base a lot. Have real, adult conversations with other team members. Use every encounter with a team member to make some progress. Deal with stuff promptly. And, above all, model the behavior you want.