What’s your approach to introducing a new initiative? Do you plan alone or with just a select few? Do you make the decisions and tell others? Do you push for closure, focused primarily on getting the task done? Or does teamwork and collaboration characterize your approach to managing and leading? Are you able to get your team members to contribute at levels you deem effective and desirable? The best managers and leaders do. Here are a few tips from their playbook:
- Set stretch goals – individual and team. Regularly discuss progress, challenges and opportunities.
- Create high-standards, a no excuses climate wherein respect, open communication and personal accountability are the norm.
- Coach the team. Help them self-assess, identifying successes, impact and what they agree to do differently going forward.
- Provide each team member with constructive feedback. First, focus on demonstrated strengths and positive impact. Then, offer feedforward – a suggestion or two for improvement, going forward.
- Seek out other’s ideas while new projects are in early developmental stages. Make visible use of good suggestions.
- Earlier than you may think necessary, begin socializing the project and educating affected groups. Be open to their input. Listen respectfully. Listen to learn.
- When introducing a new idea or project, identify all stakeholders – supporters and naysayers. Get to know their position. Anticipate how they might react.
- Engage stakeholders. Learn about their attractions to the project and their objections. Connect regularly. Keep them updated. Solicit and incorporate their feedback.
- Identify influencers, even if they’re not the decision-makers. Their early buy-in can help you sell your good ideas. Others buy-in more readily when their imprint is on the final product.
- Find a mentor who is savvy. Stay close. Listen, watch and learn.
If you work with people, in systems, you need political awareness and organizational savvy. That means being inclusive when it comes to decisions and new initiatives that affect your team while being supportive as they stretch beyond their comfort zone. Remember, as the leader, your behavior sets the tone, so check yourself. Are you setting a good example?