We expect a lot from our teams.
Every leader expects staff to deliver consistency, action, timeliness, follow-through and tenacity. We anticipate our teams bringing a lot to the table, which is why we hire them. But do we ever consider what an organization might expect from us, or what they should expect of us?
When we hire new employees, we assume they will quickly adapt to our companies, take on their job description as their own and immerse themselves within our work culture. There is much expected of our teams, as there should be. But for our organizations to be healthy, there is also much to be expected from a leader.
While we expect our teams to accomplish a lot, there is much they need in order to do their jobs well. But this support can’t come from just anywhere. There are some things only a leader can give a team.
Here are five things only a leader can give their team:
- Empathy. Empathy can also be described as emotional intelligence. It is the ability to acknowledge and partake in others’ feelings. An empathetic leader can quickly connect with a team by offering support and fostering trust. This empathy can be displayed even in small gestures. Acts of kindness, such as acknowledging people when they walk by or holding the door for them, is a great start. Empathy is shown in the little acts which allow us to engage in an authentic personal connection.
- A “Circle of Safety.” You want to create a space for your team to feel safe. We don’t always get it right the first time, and we shouldn’t instill that fear in our organizations. There should be room for your team to fail, learn and grow. In Simon Sinek’s book “Leaders Eat Last,” he writes, “Inside a circle of safety, when people trust and share their successes and failures, what they know and what they don’t know, the result is innovation. It’s just natural.” A circle of safety offers a space of security and a sense of protection for teams, allowing them to create and discover new ways of doing things. Functioning in a safe space propels your company toward a continual path of growth.
- Some control. Leaders need to give their teams a healthy amount of control and opportunity. It’s easy for any leader to become micromanaging. But micromanagement creates added pressure and stress for everyone, including the leader. When we offer our teams some control, we are stepping into a more healthy leadership role and giving individuals more participation within our company.
- An uplifting culture. The culture you instill in your workplace sets the pace for your entire organization. If you are cynical and sarcastic, teams will take that on and set the pace for your workplace culture. But if you are encouraging and positive, it will trickle down to the company’s lowest-level jobs. When you create an uplifting culture, you create a place where employees are more eager to work and are more likely to stay.
- Accessibility. Author of “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything” and leadership guru Patrick Lencioni says, “There’s no such thing as too much communication.” Accessibility and communication with a leader are essential for teams, but not always an option. Yes, the conversation goes both ways — teams should feel able to talk with their leader as much as their leader speaks to them. But that is the caveat. For your teams to feel they can depend on you in any moment of need, you must first make yourself accessible.
There is a unique ebb and flow between teams and leaders. It is easy for managers to assume teams have all they need, especially when they seem to have the support of each other. As the leader, there are some things only you can provide your team.
When leaders provide their teams the safe space and freedom they need, organizations can flourish.