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The Ascending Leader – Enemy 6: Alienating Your Team

Enemy 6: Alienating Your Team

History would readily agree that the inimitable college basketball coach at UCLA, John Wooden, was a great leader.  On his way to the National Basketball Hall of Fame he won 10 NCAA championships while molding young men into successful student-athletes as well.  Having passed away in 2010 at age 99, it was what those who were led by him remembered about him that was compelling.  The memories gave us insight into the importance of leaders engaging their teams; that team members have a connection with their leader and trust their best interests are being served.

A former player of his, Bill Walton reflected, “Coach Wooden taught by example. He never asked or expected anyone to do anything that he hadn’t already done himself. He gave us the ability to learn how to learn and to compete. His keen knowledge and foresight to always be about what’s next, always about the future, enabled him to lead an incredibly active, constructive, positive and contributing life.”

In our last post, we learned about Overlooking Stakeholders and Peers and that leaders must not become so immersed in the crisis of the day or the strategic imperatives as to overlook peers and key stakeholders.  Today, we take an even deeper dive into the relationship theme and explore Enemy 6 of the “Seven Enemies of Success for Newly Promoted Leaders.”

Enemy #6: Alienating Your Team

The early-going for the new leader of a team is an opportunity to get off to a great start. When it happens (and typically it is no accident), the energy and dynamics of the team can be leveraged to accomplish wonderful things. Unfortunately, though, whether it is the weight of the new role, the desire to impress their manager, other senior leaders, or coming off as arrogant and dictatorial, too often leaders in a new role alienate the direct reporting team that is now pivotal to their success.

Developing trust as a new leader with a team is more critical and more challenging than ever before.  Team members trust (or don’t) based on personal style, previous team, and leader experiences, as well as the business environment overall. Sadly, all too often, experience can be brutal.

In Scott Allen and Mitchell Kusy’s book, The Little Book of Leadership Development, they point out that research indicates leaders who set clearly defined expectations and agreed on levels of performance are more likely to get positive results than leaders who do not.  Your team will know what is important to you based on where you focus your attention.

Assimilating the Team

Lee Ann was recently promoted into a new and important role as Director of Organizational Development and Learning.  It was a new role, but not a new organization.  She is a high achiever and a reflective planner who has a track record of building great relationships with her teams.

With an external partner, Lee Ann planned and held a Team Assimilation meeting to help calibrate effectively with her new Team. A few weeks before the Team Assimilation session, she proactively met with each team member to build rapport and discuss current role, responsibilities, questions, requests, and aspirations. Lee Ann knew that developing the basis of a one-on-one relationship with each member would serve her well over the next several months as well as in the long term. Going forward, Lee Ann will be assessing the needs of the business, the structure for her organization and how to assure the fit of her current Team in roles that best serve the needs of the organization.

Build Relationships, Build Trust

If you put to work the Team Member Discussion Guide and the Team Assimilation Meeting Guide they will give you a starting point for building rapport and understanding between you and your team members.  Together the two tools will give your team the opportunity to get to know you better as a leader, ask questions and provide valuable input for the future.   You will quickly build strong relationships and be able to leverage your understanding of the talents and contributions of team members to perform.

LeeAnn gained key feedback from the Team Member Discussion Guide and the Team Assimilation Meeting Guide in The Ascending Leader.  She was able to establish expectations, communicate clearly, build rapport, and engage the team in dialogue about the organization’s vision.

To read more about the Seven Enemies of Success order your copy today!

Next entry: Enemy 7: Sub-Optimizing Your Vision and Plan


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DOWNLOAD: Our New Leader Assimilation Coaching program provides a comprehensive approach with proven strategies to conquer the seven enemies of leadership success based on the book, The Ascending Leader. Get your copy of this brochure now…