Who Is, Or Should Be In Charge?

The other day I was asked, “How do you get the team to take the lead on their own and produce results?” Definitely an interesting question that I would really like to get other’s impressions and thoughts on.

From my standpoint, (I started off doing something that I really gets me frustrated when others do this) I started asking questions like:

  • Is this a mature team?
  • Has the team been together for a short or long time?
  • What is their overall team performance been – in your eyes? Are they performing?
  • Do they fully understand what is expected of them?
  • Do you know their overall strengths (individually and as a team)?

Based on those answers, I thought I could better answer the question that was posed to me. Really, I think any team can be a self directed team. There are always informal leaders on the team that other team members look to for guidance and help. When I used the self direct team, I had flashbacks to the early 90’s of when my employer first attempted to move the factory floor to self directed work teams. Boy, were they some rough times. As time marched on, lessons were learned, supervisors finally understood that their jobs were still safe and the team started to learn and apply team dynamics; then self direct work teams started to gain some traction. Some self directed work teams were really outstanding.

My answer to his question was more like. I believe that ever team can get there. Just depends where the team and the leader are within the complete life cycle. My last post described how the team has to have a mission, measureable goals and a firm understand of what success looks like – and they will get to that promised land. Of course, it is not that simple. It takes effort from the complete team. Within most of my teams, I have had them do the following:

  • Complete training on team dynamics together.
  • Read and take the Strength Finder 2.0 evaluation. With this each individual understood their strengths better, each team member got to see the complete make up of the teams and within the book it provided how to work with folks with certain strengths.
  • Let the informal leaders step in for me from time to time.  

After spending more time with this peer, I realized that he is a fairly new team leader. He was an ace doer that has been given a leadership role with much training missing. As we talked he started to understand why I answered his question with more questions. His answer’s to the questions were lacking in understanding. I told him he needed to assess his level of knowledge in team dynamics, understand his strengths and weaknesses, plug some of the gaps and assess the team members and the team as a whole. Then he can really start to make the team be more self directed. I warned him of the two things that will cause the biggest danger – his own fear of letting go and his lack of being true to the journey that he is about to embark on.

We talked for hours and I shared with him the resources that I used over the years to help me. What was interesting to me, was the complete willingness of this new leader to be a sponge and be open to realizing that this all starts with him. We parted ways with the promise that if he needed some more help, contact me. I have a feeling that this person’s team is going to be happy that they have him as the team lead.

Do you have any thoughts on the question “How do you get the team to take the lead on their own and produce results?”