Building an ideal team is one of the most complex but also one of the most rewarding and advantageous responsibility of a leader. The leader has to select the team to ultimately create the best results for the organization, in light of the company’s culture and of the personality, motivation, commitment, values, performance, integrity level of his or her potential team members, with respect to his or her leadership style. When the team is built, the leader has to look out for red flags that can destroy the synergy of his or her team and easily create a lasting toxic climate.
Wondering how to detect these red flags, avoid toxicity on your team, how to extract the best results from your team members and to become the best team member you can?
A few years ago, I worked on a year-long project, under a boss who used demotions and other measures to punish some of his employees when mistakes occurred. For example, he would quickly and sadistically withdraw work responsibilities from someone he did not favor to give to someone else.
As a result, the team was a unsalvable shipwreck: every man for himself, searching for a floatation device, fighting to get on land. My former boss manipulative behavior created a toxic climate where people were continually in flight or fight mode, were mistrustful towards one another, would turn on each other, retain information and sabotage every other person efforts to succeed, were obliged to seek his “affections” and to continually prove their loyalty to him in order to feel safe in their position, were more focused on office politics than on their work, were always on the lookout of a scapegoat, were afraid of speaking up and being transparent.
The lack of trust, commitment, performance was noticeable on a daily basis. By trust, I mean the ability of the team members to admit their mistakes, acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses, stay open, transparent with one another without any repercussion on themselves or their career.
RED FLAG #1: Lack of Transparency
Teams must be able to understand each other, to interpret their respective behavior and to be candid with one another.
To enable transparency, leaders have to:
- Ask their team to reveal something personal and relevant about themselves. It can relate to their failures or successes, to their worst or most embarrassing experiences at work.
- Encourage team building to better understand one another and enable bonds.
- Assess and apply their team strengths and weaknesses by using profiling tools to get more insights into their behavior such as the DISC assessment, Social Style model, Right Path Profiles, Insights, MBTI).
- Define a clear purpose for the team.
- Explain major decisions from the organization to their team and include them in the flow of relevant information.
- Maintain trust overtime and create unanimity.
- Consistently tell the truth to their followers, be comfortable with it and practise integrity.
- Value openness, empower those who tell the truth and must not reward those who do otherwise.
RED FLAG #2: Fear of conflict
In teams, conflicts do exist, are raw and real, are to be expected, and shouldn’t be avoided. In addition, they occur because we were born into different generations, backgrounds, with different personalities, values and morals.
Furthermore, conflict is always seen in a negative light or as a destructive process.
However, conflicts can be healthy and productive too. And even though conflicts are uncomfortable and make you feel under attack, they are necessary for personal and organizational progress, are used to generate the best decisions for the organization and to make team meetings mire engaging. In order to establish a conflict culture, it is imperative that leaders:
- Create a structure where it is safe for their team members to express themselves without feeling the need to attack.
- Hold their team accountable to the conflict system established.
- Focus the conflict on the issue at hand to avoid personal attacks.
- Assess each team member conflict capabilities/profiles with MBTI to develop the appropriate approach.
- Ask their team members directly his they deal with conflicts.
- be conflict generators, define conflict resolution, ease anxious team members in the face if conflict and find courage to speak truth to power.
RED FLAG #3: Lack of Commitment
Commitment is the willingness to achieve common goals as a team, the ability of team members to align themselves with the organization purpose, values and strategies even in disagreement with the decision taken.
To enhance team commitment, leaders must:
- Embrace conflicts, divergent opinions, ideas and perspectives.
- Among conflicting ideas, make wise decisions and be unafraid to displease some team members.
- Before making a decision, understand and consider all ideas.
- Clarify their decisions with the team and write down them down to avoid ulterior assumptions and ambiguities.
RED FLAG #4: Lack of accountability
Team members must keep each other accountable for their behavior, their mistakes and lack of performance. If no one is held accountable, team members gradually lose respect for each other and moral decreases. Leaders must:
- Lead by example, call out mishaps, low results and misconduct.
- Make every team member aware of each other contributions and functions on the team.
- Track everyone’s progress and accurately measure performance.
- Measure team success using objective and liable means.
- Measure progress with timelines.
- Focus on areas of productivity.
- Make sure that the collective interest in results exceeds the individual needs of the team.
How to be an effective team member?
- Develop your communication skills
- Make sure that you are understood and are open to clarifying misunderstandings.
- Monitor your non verbal communication. Keep your body language positive and opened.
- Look at the person you’re exchanging with.
- If a problem occurs between you and someone else, fix it before the problem festers by talking to that person as soon as possible. This shows that you are willing to work through issues, that you are a problem solver instead of being inappropriate and ineffective.
- Give sincere and appropriate positive feedback to your team members.
- Develop your listening skills
To demonstrate your interest in learning new skills, to better understand the other person, you have to:
- be willing to listen more that you speak and voice your opinion in due time.
- Implement the conversation with probing question
- Request other people opinion before giving yours.
- Avoid planning your responses during the conversation.
- Encourage the conversation with nods, smiles and eye contact.
- Manage your tasks and time.
Put your understanding of the team task into writing in order to clarify immediate issues and to have a reference for time and deadlines measurement.
- Own up to your actions.
Failing to follow through on your team assignments is synonym to letting your team down. To stay accountable for your part:
- Keep your promises
- Offer to help coworkers in time of need
- Avoid procrastination and do not hesitate yo ask for help.
- Avoid blaming others for your mistakes take the blame if you have done something wrong.
- Find solutions to issues instead if creating them.
- Learn from each and very situations and move on group them.
- Avoid repeating past mistakes.
- Work on interrelationship skills
In the team, you have to cooperate with your coworkers and work well with your supervisor. To do so:
- Treat everyone with respect
- Avoid stereotypes and jumping to conclusions
- Avoid gossip and keep confidences
- Share your knowledge with your team.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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