It’s possible to maintain control and be friendly with your team!
Do you want your team to love or fear you? There’s a school of thought that says that you can’t lead a team and be friendly with its members.
It’s the same thought that states that you can’t be friends with your kids. The power position makes it impossible, as one will always have power over the other, so true friendship is not in the cards.
There is SOME truth to the notion that you probably can’t be best friends with the members of your team. Still, there is no reason why you can’t be friendly. Being nice doesn’t undermine your effectiveness as a leader; if anything, it improves it!
So how can you do your job as a leader and still have your team members like you?
Watch your reactions
When something goes right, or when your team experiences success, everyone expects a positive reaction. When something goes wrong, it’s normal to not throw a party BUT how you react to a negative is vital.
If your team is cowering, afraid of your reaction to a failure, that’s a bad situation. You position yourself as being inflexible and unable to roll with the punches, which isn’t a trait most people look for in a leader. Realizing that most leaders have a lot of pressure on them to perform, negativity can take over without your even realizing it.
If instead, you maintain an ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ attitude that reflects the desire to find the good in a bad situation — or to, at the very least, take a positive step forward from a failure — your team will love you more than ever before. Embracing failure as a teachable moment and moving on, rather than laying blame and being negative, will put you on a high road.
Moreover, your team is likely to follow your lead: if you’re positive, they’ll be able to find the good in a situation too. If you’re chronically negative, you will see that reflected in their behavior too.
The rules apply to you, too
Deadlines, documentation standards, processes… there are a lot of rules that need to be observed in the course of the workday, in getting things done. The leader who is beloved is one who does not think him or herself above the rules.
If you expect your team to behave a certain way, follow certain processes and adhere to specific standards, you need to behave that way, follow that process and adhere to those standards too. While you’re their leader, you are ALL a team and the whole works better if you set the example and behave that way.
Give people time and attention
Yes, your schedule is probably booked up. But, if you want to build and maintain strong relationships, you need to make time for your team. One-on-one and as a group, team building is an ongoing process. It’s not something that happens on a one-off trip to a mountain resort for a weekend of trust building exercises.
Trust comes over time. Your team will appreciate that you are interested in each of them as individuals — not as ‘performers’; not as a number; not as a cog who will get the job done. Caring about your team members, both in terms of their personal and professional well being, will get you the team that cares about you and the projects you are entrusted with.
Share helpful feedback
Feedback also is an important part of sharing your time. You need to provide useful and constructive feedback on performance in a timely manner.
Waiting for annual reviews to pile on the information is neither useful nor helpful. Feedback, even when it is something to work on rather than straight up praise is important because team members will see that you appreciate the effort, that you’ve noticed their work.
It’s an important way of giving them your time and attention that will pay back in dividends over time!
If nothing else, being kind is valuable. That means no gossiping. No sniping mean things about other teams or leaders. No rolling your eyes when one of your team members is late because their child is sick. The list of examples is endless, but the bottom line is the same. Kindness pays.
“Whatever possession we gain by our sword cannot be sure or lasting, but the love gained by kindness and moderation is certain and durable.” ~ Alexander the Great
Working with your team with generosity and kindness comes from a place of gratitude. You can foster that within yourself and your leadership style by paying attention to being grateful. For that, our Grounded in Gratitude Journal can help you on your way with 384 pages of inspiration to remind you daily about what’s important.
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