Congratulations you’ve just been appointed leader of a project team! Here’s the good news: organizing a team to achieve a goal provides a special sense of fulfillment. Here’s the bad news: everyone will be looking to you for direction; all eyes are on you. Oh, one more thing, did I mention that you have no formal authority over any of your team members? That’s right, you can forget that hammer you thought you could wield because it may as well be made out of foam. So now what?
This type of situation is very common in all types of corporations. Ad hoc teams are frequently assembled to accomplish a specific task and some one has to lead. If you’re appointed team leader, you have to know how to get people engaged. Here’s how:
- Clearly define the goal. Everyone wants to know what the destination is when they set out on a new venture. It’s up to the leader to crystallize that goal for everyone. Describe what success looks like in vivid terms. Put energy behind it. Make sure everyone knows what the rewards are, and commit to sharing the rewards and credit with everyone.
- Don’t show up with all the answers. If you do, you’ll look like a dictator and a know-it-all. Your team members will resent that all you do is bark-out orders. Instead, engage everyone in developing the solution even if you already know what to do. This is important for two reasons. First, everyone will feel like they are contributing. That creates team spirit and a sense of fulfillment for everyone. Second, you’ll quickly realize that you didn’t have all the answers, and your team will make just about any idea you had better.
- Be approachable. Carrying a stern demeanor to show how important you are just doesn’t fool anyone. A calm self-assured presence and friendly disposition goes a long way in getting others to put their trust in you. At the same time, don’t be so friendly that you look like you’re trying to be everyone’s buddy. This totally undermines your position. Your team needs you to lead; they already have plenty of pals. If you have to chose between being liked or respected, go for respect. Once they know you’re fair, your team will like you too.
- Set the ground rules. Everyone likes to know what the boundaries are. Here’s a simple set of rules that work for any team. Tell everyone they must know their ROLE – Respect, On-time, Listening, Effort. Respect each other’s opinions and contributions. Be on time with all deadlines; lateness is disrespect for the team. Listen to instructions once agreement is reached and listen to others when they are sharing their views. Deliver maximum effort on your part of the solution. If you “mail-in” your work, you’re hurting everyone.
- Be committed. Your team will only work as hard as you do. If you appear to be cruising and not putting forward effort, or if you show up late for meetings, everyone will begin to question the importance of the task. If it’s not important to you, it won’t be important to them. Lack of commitment is a quick way to loose your team.
Have any additional tips? Share them and help make everyone a 4 Power Leader.
Make every day a 4 Power Day!