Influence, impact: The Team-Aware Leader
The Three Cs of a Team-Aware Leader
We need courageous leaders now more than ever. In a volatile world and workplace, having the courage to lead with clarity and vision is vital. Becoming a courageous leader is a journey, one I'm lucky enough to share alongside my clients as they move from struggling to successful. One of the most rewarding stages on this journey is embracing team-aware leadership - a subtle shifting of focus that enables leaders to truly lean into their capability to positively influence and impact their people.
Being a self-aware leader is the second pillar when it comes to courageous leadership. This pillar is all about how leaders interact and lead their teams.
So, what is a Team-Aware Leader?
A team-aware leader embodies and role models a people-oriented management style that builds relationships with employees, connects them to the bigger organisational picture and makes room for soft skills development, not just task-related skills. A team-aware leader helps to energise their team and makes them feel appreciated for the work they do and that they make a difference in the company. Research found that the most powerful precursor to intrinsic motivation was the feeling of making progress at meaningful work and team-aware leaders are adept at supporting their people in consistently doing just that.
One of the best ways to build a productive team is by connecting with them. If they are not on board or engaged, it will be a lot harder to achieve success. Making sure leaders have a positive relationship with their team will inspire and empower them to show up as their best selves.
The three key pillars of a team-aware leader:
You can’t create change in the workplace without effective communication. There are a lot of different types of communication within a team - courageous conversations, conflict-management communication, feedback and performance communication, operational, and aspirational communication. As a leader, there's also Communicating with influence, Presenting with Persuasion and of course the Magic of Storytelling.
Communicating about the WHY and not just about the WHAT is what will drive employee engagement and satisfaction. Making sure that your team knows the strategic thinking behind their tasks is essential to employee engagement. It is important to be able to explain to our staff why they are doing what they are doing in order to create better output from your team.
Pro tip #1: If you can’t explain it, then perhaps it’s not as important as you think it is!
Pro tip #2: If you're sick of saying something, it's probably only just starting to get the cut through.
Team-aware leaders are great at setting expectations and clearly articulating what success looks like (we sometimes disguise this as accountability).
You can break this down like this:
What does a good day look like?
What does a successful week or month look like?
What are the indicators of success?
By doing so, leaders and their teams can start taking concrete steps to achieve these indicators of success.
The one trait every successful team-aware leader must have is compassion. While compassion isn't something you're born with, it’s a big part of emotional intelligence which does grow out of considerate behaviour and daily practice. Compassion is empathy in action - not just feeling, but doing: a kind word here, a generous gesture there. Even the smallest and simplest acts can have the biggest impacts.
Organisations with (and who value) compassionate leaders at the helm tend to experience harmony and cohesiveness among employees, which leads to a prosperous, harmonious, efficient and effective working environment. However, compassion does not mean a leader is acting out of pity but rather a leader who behaves and acts with sincere concern for others and considers their well-being a priority. A truly compassionate leader has good intentions for individuals, teams and the organisation as a whole.
Have you ever noticed how the best leaders also tend to be the most curious leaders? Great leaders aren’t satisfied with simply working in their comfort zone. They possess an insatiable curiosity for discovery and learning. Since the dawn of time, the world has been shaped by leaders who understand that curiosity is the gateway to the future.
Among many other things, adopting a mindset of curiosity helps frame vision, advances learning, fuels passion, and drives innovation. Curiosity often inspires the courage to discuss the undiscussable, challenge current thinking, deviate from behaviours accepted as normal, and do what others previously thought impossible. All great ideas and solutions begin by asking the right questions. As a team-aware leader, you need to learn to ask the right questions and in seeking the answers you’ll build courageous teams that are ready to navigate the future.
Until next time Eat the Frog, Get the Worm, Be the Bird, and start becoming a team-aware leader.
Ally Nitschke is a Leadership Expert, Courageous Conversation Specialist and Speaker. She has been working with leaders and as a Leader for over 15 years. She is on a mission to change the way we communicate at work, to lean into those uncomfortable conversations and lead with courage. Ally delivers Courageous Conversations Programs, Courageous Leadership programs, Coaching, Mentoring and Keynotes. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.