Taking action takes us outside of our comfort zone. We err on the side of caution or overthinking, which stifles our growth. As leaders, we are looking to drive change in a way that helps our people feel safe, purposeful, and contributing.
This is a matter of culture, which cannot be controlled or designed. It is not something that happens to people; it happens among people and is always evolving. Leaders need to demonstrate and model the behavior of care and courage to inspire their people to take bold action.
As leaders, we must be vulnerable first and frequently. We need to be accountable when we make mistakes. This also means we need to be willing to listen to the people who follow us. It may start by asking a few questions, such as:
- What is one thing I currently do that you would like me to continue to do?
- What is one thing that I do not presently do frequently enough or that you think I should do more often?
- What can I do to make you more effective?
Laszlo Bock, former head of People Analytics for Google, points out, “The key is to ask not for five or ten things but just one. That way it’s easier for people to answer. And when a leader asks for feedback in this way, it makes it safe for the people who work with them to do the same. It can get contagious.”
You need to over-communicate your expectations. Collaboration does not happen on its own. Instead, send explicit and persistent messages about the outcomes that are desired. This should be done in a way that aligns with organizational values and maximizes courageous, helping behavior.
When there is bad news to be delivered, it should be done in person. While it is more comfortable to send negative news via email, it should be done face to face. Doing this builds a reputation of respect that works in both directions.
Moving your team forward requires listening like a trampoline, which means allowing others to start slowly and safely. You need to ensure your people know you care about what they are saying. As they continue, ask questions to challenge them (jumping higher). It is imperative that you take a supportive and helping stance because the person talking most likely knows more about the specifics of their tasks than the leader does.
You should use candor generating practices but avoid brutal honesty or ad hominem comments. (The problem with brutal honesty is that it is brutal.) Bob Chapman suggests not talking to anyone of your people differently than you would speak to your children. However, to generate radical candor, you might consider a Before Action Review to set the expectations. A Before Action Review is set around a few questions that are answered as a team:
- What are our intended results?
- What challenges can we anticipate?
- What have we or others learned in similar situations?
- What will make us successful this time?
Similarly, although designed for the military, After Action Reviews may also be useful. These are also based upon a few questions:
- What were our intended results?
- What were our actual results?
- What caused our results?
- What will do the same next time?
- What will we do differently?
Action can only take place when visions and ideas are clearly explained and understood. When the entire team is on board with the expected outcomes, they can better perform the jobs and feel empowered to make the decisions that need to be made in the moment. In the event the decision is not the right one, take the opportunity to nurture them through some flash mentoring. This will allow them and everyone else to know that they are cared for and safe. And this will help you thrive.
If you have any questions on how you can better communicate action within your team, reach out to Raine Digital for your free strategy meeting!