Boy sad picAll the best intentions don’t really amount to much if we don’t deliver on the basics of team leadership.    Here are some things guaranteed to disappoint the very people we want to serve:

1.  Unclear/No Goals:   Nothing frustrates folks more than working hard on something only to find they are working on the wrong thing, they are off course, or working counter to other members of the team. It has to be a constant discipline to discuss, clarify,  and drill down to the specifics of the targets the team works toward.   OK, sometimes we need more info to better set goals. Fine, but then the work to understand the target better is a goal unto itself.

2.  Overpromising and Underdelivering for Our People:  Many leaders have lots of positivity and optimism, and  tend to view the impossible as possible,  and underestimate the difficulty of things.  Sound like you?  Admit to yourself the danger here.  If you promise something, you have to deliver, or your credibility is shredded and the whole servant leader thing is a joke.  And the small things matter a ton.  So stop over-promising.  And if things change and you just can’t deliver, communicate like crazy and offer an alternative.

3.  Bricks without Straw:  There is a certain amount of equipment and resources that are needed to do the job, to deliver on promises, to meet objectives.  Make sure you provide or see that it is provided.  Don’t be cheap on things that can multiply the effectiveness of your team, or provide basics such as safety and security.  Those kind of things always repay many times over.

4.  Going Open Loop – No Performance Feedback:   Folks can’t learn, and progress, and figure out how best to do hard things without quality communication on how things are going, how they are doing against goals.  You should  setup clear ways that someone can easily tell how they are doing, and your voice must be a big part of this feedback.  Close the loop.  It is not micromanaging to coach, mentor, and accelerate learning!

5.  Tolerate mediocrity or worse:  sometimes folks just are not getting it, there is not a good fit, the situation is wrong  and one or more team members are, in the presence of quality feedback, not able to move out of mediocrity.  Be compassionate, but for the sake of the team make a change.  This can be uncomfortable to do and potentially disruptive, but letting it go on is like a slow poisoning.

I am no perfect example in these areas – it requires constant striving and exertion to avoid these traps.  But the effort multiplies the effectiveness and joy of the people on your team.

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