Advice from a millennial leadership strategist and author.
Successful leaders align and motivate a team in order to guide a vision forward. Leadership involves continuously improving processes and updating your vision and approach. However, leaders often lack tangible techniques and practices for aligning and motivating their team. Without the right practices for cultivating individual and collective progress, teams stagnate and the vision suffers. Use these five essential practices to reinvigorate your leadership and make sure you are leading your team forward effectively and efficiently.
Regularly align with your team members.
Leaders help the team to evolve and progress by developing a clear vision, adapting, and responding to change. Without a big-picture vision, clear delegation, and timelines, teams often find themselves working in all different directions. The energy put in doesn’t collectively add up to any real progress. Team members find people are doing redundant work. Team members get frustrated and burn out.
What does alignment really mean? How do you align with your team members? In dynamic business environments, it is essential to continuously connect as a team to discuss team goals and review how priorities have changed. True team alignment means that each individual on the team is on the same page about what current team objectives are and what each individual is responsible for. Hold a regular weekly team meeting to align with your team members. In your team meeting, reconnect to the big-picture mission and team vision. Review your collective goals and break down the goals into actionable tasks that have clear delegation and timelines. When team members are clear about responsibilities and see how their work connects to the big-picture vision, they work with more efficiency and enthusiasm.
Provide opportunities for learning and development.
It is in the best interest of the leader to ensure team members are given opportunities to learn and develop professionally. Opportunities to gain new skills and knowledge motivate employees. Team members that continue learning are more productive and more dedicated. Learning is a skill in itself. Team members that leave the office environment to learn new skills or shadow other teams return with new insights and solutions.
In your one-on-one meetings with team members, discuss professional development opportunities with them. Provide opportunities to learn new skills through special projects or courses related to your field of work. Provide opportunities to shadow other teams or go to conferences to gain ideas and network with other professionals.
Make time for reflection and creative thinking.
Reflection time and creative thinking often get postponed due to the regular work demands and ongoing tasks. There is no clear return on investment for time spent on reflecting or brainstorming. However, what smart leaders realize is that nothing ever improves without thinking creatively about how processes and results could be better. Problems are only solved once it’s too late if no one is continuously reflecting on the big-picture status, wins, and learnings.
Schedule time to regularly reflect alone about how the status of the team aligns with the mission and vision. Schedule regular time each week or each month to reflect and brainstorm as a team. Time spent discussing what could be improved, working through issues, and generating new ideas keep the team engaged. Reflection and creative thinking allow the team to proactively solve problems in order to evolve and progress.
Reevaluate your tools and systems.
As busy leaders, it’s easy to get attached to processes that work and systems that are tried and true. Why break something that’s not broken? A progressive leader is always evaluating new tools and systems that could help the team to work more efficiently and with more ease. Tools and systems are evolving more quickly then ever before. Tools and systems help teams to evolve as well.
Sometimes a new fancy tool or system is not necessary. However, the resources you use can make a big difference in terms of productivity and ease of working. If a team member suggests a new tool or system, keep an open mind and evaluate if a new tool could improve productivity, accuracy, or ease. Always make sure team members are trained so that they are using tools and systems correctly and to their full potential.
Invest in learning and development
Finally, invest time in your own learning and development! Progressive, inspiring leaders are always learning. Just as you should provide your team members with learning opportunities, make sure you continue to learn as well. Reading is an accessible and impactful way to stay up-to-date on industry trends and learn from other successful leaders and influencers.
Schedule time during your lunch break or on weekends to learn something new, whether work-related or life-enhancing. Leaders that learn are great mentors. Since you are evolving by learning, you naturally bring that attitude of growth and progress to work. Lead by example by learning something new every week (or every day).
These practices are essential for a team to evolve and progress. Try out these suggestions to lead your team into the future.
HILARY JANE GROSSKOPF is the author of Awake Leadership: A System for Leading with Clarity and Creativity (CLICK HERE to get your copy) and Awake Ethic: A System for Aligning Your Action with Your Core Intentions (CLICK HERE to get your copy). She is a leadership guide, strategist, writer and Founder of Awake Leadership Solutions.
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