12 Most Empowering Things a Team Leader Should Take
Most team leaders spend their time thinking more about empowering people, considering what things they can give people instead of what they could selfishly take. In fact, I would argue that servant leadership is the most positive, powerful, effective, and inspiring example a manager or coach could provide their team.
Many have heard quotes about the importance of giving. Benjamin E. Mays is remembered for sharing that “it is not what you keep, but what you give that makes you happy.” Edwin Louis Cole offers a similar belief, suggesting that “the degree of loving is measured by the degree of giving.” And it is true that the act of giving — of your time, your advice, and your encouragement is what quality leadership is largely based upon.
But — while a servant leader may have his or her heart in the right place, sometimes a team would benefit more if their leaders would stop GIVING and start TAKING. So here, now, is a list of the 12 Most Empowering Things a Team Leader Should Take:
1. Take care of your people
Great leaders are quick to praise productive decisions or ideas, and will always look for ways to reward those who are contributing to the team’s success. By doing so, you will be encouraging future positive behaviors, while building recognition into the fabric of your organizational culture.
2. Take some initiative
People in struggling organizations often suffer from the “wait to be told” syndrome. The problem is that they soon become followers who need constant supervision and direction, placing the responsibility for their efforts on someone else’s shoulders. The best way to inspire others to take initiative is to be the change you wish to see — and do something that needs to be done without waiting to be told!
3. Take your time
Some people want to hurry through the day, and hurry through their activities, and hurry to finish their work — and efficiency isn’t always a bad thing… but it can lead to a lack of attention to details. And success is found in the detail of your work! It is better to take a few more minutes, or even days, to ensure that what you are delivering is something you are proud of than to rush through and deliver low quality products or performances to your clients.
4. Take a hint
People don’t like confrontations. Your co-workers and managers may be trying to tell you something without being as bold or direct as you would like. If you hear more than one or two people suggest politely that you should consider ______, or hinting that you are a little too ________, you may want to take notice of their comments! If you have a problem with one person, that is one thing. But if you have a similar problem with more than one person, they may not be the problem!
5. Take a bow
One of the most often neglected aspects of team development is the commitment to thank others for their efforts and to accept compliments well. If you want others to accept the accolades you offer, you must be willing to demonstrate how to accept praise without shrugging it off as unimportant. The more you celebrate successes and treat them as important opportunities to emphasize what your team should be doing consistently, the more your team will repeat those behaviors and work to earn praise themselves.
6. Take the scenic route
People think that success is supposed to be a straight line drive, but that is seldom if ever the case in reality. In the real world, success is part of your journey, but your journey and your daily interactions and growth are what you and your team should be focused on. Be sure to appreciate and take note of where you are on your team’s journey — because waiting to smell the flowers at the end of your walk may make the walk a great deal less enjoyable.
7. Take five
Every employee, athlete, and coworker — no matter how impressive — will need some time to recharge their batteries. Whether you choose to give them time away on vacation to do so, or you organize events like conferences where they can be motivated by new ideas or a motivational team building speaker, both you and your people will benefit from taking an occasional break from your daily routines and coming back with a renewed energy with fresh eyes and passion.
8. Take a risk
The single most difficult thing for leaders to do at times is to take risks. Nobody wants to fail or feel the eyes of criticism on them for having done something that wsn’t a complete success. But great leaders, and great teammates, are aware that we succeed by failing first! You must be willing in some instances to be bad long enough to get better. And if we do well what we do often, the only way to get better is to get started and take the risk of rejection or failure as part of our process of improvement.
9. Take ownership
No leader wants an organization of employees. We all want to feel we are working with those who take ownership and feel invested in the cause we are committed to. And the best way to inspire others to take ownership is to show them what it looks like by claiming accountability and caring more than others think wise. Then, after you have established your own investment in the project, you can inspire others by providing them opportunities for collaboration, connections, and challenges that will increase their sense of ownership.
10. Take their breath away
Everyone wants to be surprised and impressed with high quality work, but it takes extraordinary effort and passion to create it consistently. But if you are intent on producing great work, your passion and refusal to compromise standards will be rewarded with both awe and increased allegiance. Do something bold and stop cutting those corners. Take a stand when it comes to quality, and insist on building your reputation with amazing performances and products.
11. Take stock
Any business that sells things will set aside a day each year or each quarter to check on their inventory and confirm what they have in the warehouse. As a leader, that is your job as well — but taking stock of your people, your resources, and your current situation in your industry can be a challenging task. It demands that you are both thorough and honest in appraising your own strengths, the strengths of your people, and what you need to o to improve and reach your desired level of success.
12. Take your own advice!
Your organization will mirror your own personal attitudes and behaviors. That said, sometimes the toughest medicine to take is what we prescribe for others. It is much easier, sometimes, to see and address the issues that others are experiencing than it is to acknowledge and fix our own. If you expect it of your people, you must adhere to it yourself — and often the advice we give to others is exactly the thing that we most need to hear, and act on, ourselves…
You need to give. That remains true for all leaders. But perhaps you should consider the benefits, both or you and for your organization, of what happens when you choose to TAKE things as well.
Empowering your teammates begins with setting a positive example and encouraging them to follow it. Jim Rohn tells us that “giving is better than receiving because giving starts the receiving process.” Sometimes, one of the best things you can give your people is what they see you take!
What do you think leaders should take?
Featured image courtesy of Thomas Hawk licensed via Creative Commons.