Leadership is tough. Even those who seem to find it so easy still have times when they struggle. In fact, it is such a common problem entire books have been written around it. A great deal of business coaching advice has also been devoted to how a leader can get their employees to follow them. Therein lies the rub. Getting employees to follow your strategic direction can be difficult – at times it may even seem impossible.
Forcing or coercing your staff into following you or doing what you want them to do rarely ends well. However, there are some strategies that you can use to evaluate the effectiveness of your leadership, which will give you insight into things you may want to change. One of the best ways to assess how you’re doing in leading your team is to ask yourself the following question: would you follow yourself?
Put Yourself in the Shoes of Employees at Every Level of Your Team
As the old saying goes, if you want to understand someone better just walk a mile in his or her shoes. It is much too easy to look at yourself and only see your thoughts, your motivations, and the things that drive you. The problem is, you are usually too close to the issue to see it clearly. You are not in a position to make any assessments until you can remove yourself from the equation, separate your own wants, needs, and viewpoints from what is actually going on. In other words, you have to be objective.
Would you be motivated to come to work every day as an entry-level employee under your own leadership? What about a middle-tier manager? Look at every employee, their position, their level and ask yourself, “Would I follow me?” Sometimes the honesty of the situation is not pretty. You won’t always get the answer that you’d like.
- Try to view your leadership approach from the perspective of other team members at all levels.
- Remove yourself from the situation and look from an objective standpoint.
- Try to imagine being in their position and honestly assess whether or not you would follow you as a leader.
Have You Defined a Clear Direction for Your Team?
What are the goals of your team? Do you provide direction for them? Do they follow it? Can they follow it? Again, be honest. If you aren’t giving your team clear direction you could be undermining your own leadership. Most people thrive on some degree of order and few do well when structure is lacking.
Without direction, companies fall apart. Have you built out a clear vision of where your company is going? Can you explain that vision to your team members? All too often leaders will present their team members with a veritable laundry list of goals or provide vague ideas of where the team is going or what the final result will be. Having something clear and concrete will help your team focus and they will be able to relax in your leadership because they know you are steady and you aren’t all over the map.
- Clearly define the strategic direction of the team.
- Avoid having a vague, “laundry list” approach to goals.
- Maintain structure and organization when presenting the strategic direction to your team.
Learn more about how to develop your company’s core values
Does Your Team Understand and Believe in that Direction?
Once you have established your strategic direction, it is important for your team to get behind you on it. They need to believe in it as much as you do. In fact, having a team that believes in your strategic direction is just as important as having one in the first place. You need everyone on the same page, working toward a common goal. This direction could be for a team, a department, or for the entire organization.
The only way to know if your team members hold the same views regarding team direction as you do is to communicate with them. Try asking a few members about the strategic direction of the company, and see how closely it relates to your own internal vision. Ask probing questions and look for areas where you can improve communication regarding how you convey your strategic direction and how you relate to your team overall.
- Talk to team members to see if they share your direction for the team.
- Ask questions for clarity.
- Look for areas where communication can be improved.
Leadership is about inspiring and motivating. It is not just about helping your team members achieve the team goals, it’s about helping them believe in those goals. The most effective team and the most effective team member have at least one thing in common: they believe in what they are doing. When you can be the one who helps them see the goals and believe in the mission you can propel that team into greatness.
Organizations are made up of people and it’s the people that breathe life into ideas, goals, and missions. It is also leadership that inspires these people to act, to believe. That is what you should be looking at, whether or not you are inspiring the people in your organization to do those things. When you touch the humanness in them, spark their imagination, make them believe that they are a part of something special, then you won’t have any problem getting anyone to follow your strategic direction. They will do it automatically.
Never lose sight of the humans sitting in those chairs, the brains behind the ideas, and the brains that hearts that propel the team into action. When you do that, there will be no question about whether or not your people will follow you – it will just happen naturally.
The EOS model has helped hundreds of small businesses to define and achieve their company visions. Learn more about how the Entrepreneurial Operating System can help you today!
The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) was created by Gino Wickman (Author of Traction-get a grip on your business) and is a registered trademark of EOS Worldwide. Chris Hallberg of Traction Inc. is a Certified EOS Implementer(tm) that helps business owners and their leadership teams get more of what they want from their business.