5 essential practices for leading your new team
Teams are complex systems comprising individuals with their own unique skills, perspectives, desires and ways of working. Whilst leading any team has its fair share of ups and downs, new teams have the challenge of establishing a shared understanding of team goals, disciplines, different characters and ways of working.
There are five things it is important to know about leading a new team that can help lay the groundwork for effectiveness in the future. Even if you are an established team, checking you have these practices in place is a valuable exercise..
1. Personal self-awareness
Enhancing your self-awareness provides a deeper understanding of why you are thinking and feeling in certain ways.It helps us to tune into how we lead and the effect it has on the team. Is your default reaction to jump to the rescue? To avoid issues? To find blame? Past experiences and belief systems may alter how you approach situations and tasks. As a leader (and team member), heightened self-awareness allows you to be more thoughtful about your actions and the effect that it has on others. Feedback from others on how they perceive you build on your self-knowledge to make you more aware of your behaviours, your strengths and your blind spots.
2. Constant improvement
What would it look like if your team was high-performing and achieving its goals? Teams need to regularly review what needs to happen in order to improve their effectiveness. This could involve revising your processes, developing the teams’ skillset or improving ways of working and communicating between teams. The emphasis here is on constant improvement; placing importance on reflective and retrospective practices greatly helps with this. Another essential to constant improvement is giving and receiving regular relevant feedback. The greater the pace, complexity or uncertainty your team faces, the more time you will need to devote to constant improvement.
3. Shared aspirational goals
Having a shared purpose is an essential part of what makes a group of people a team. This is about creating meaningful goals as a team that are clear and motivational, providing the much-needed clarity of vision for your new team. When teams possess a shared understanding of priorities, goals and tasks, you can expect greater motivation and performance. When setting goals, it often helps identify why it is significant and what solution it is creating. Regularly review and revisit your goals to check that they are still the right things to focus on and to bring renewed energy to the team.
4. A believable pathway
For team members to maintain team effectiveness, they need to buy into the route as well as the destination. Believable pathways are about turning your exciting vision into reality by creating a roadmap between where you are now and where you aspire to be. After your new team has an understanding of the team goals, it is now time to discuss how it is going to work in real life. Answering questions like ‘how will we know when this goal has been achieved?’ and ‘what will we do if we encounter (insert risk)?’ will help manage practicalities and instil confidence within the team.
5. Play to each other's strengths
Getting the best from each other involves tuning into each other strengths. In doing this, we appreciate the diversity in the team and make good use of the value each member brings. As a leader of a new team, encourage your team members to recognise each other's skills and pull others in on tasks that will suit their unique strengths. When a team pulls together around a shared purpose and seeks to play to the strengths of all team members, it increases team trust making support and constructive feedback more likely to form a part of your everyday practice. You’ll find that members feel accountable for each other’s success, making them far less a group of individuals but a high-performing team.
QUESTION Which area(s) do you think needs more attention in your team?
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