Knowing when to “take the lead” and when to take the backseat and allow your team members to drive results on their own can be one of the most difficult balancing acts a leader must face. Trusting your team to act alone and own their responsibilities can free you from constant micromanaging. But at the same time, your guidance as a leader and mentor is critical to your team’s development and success.
These tips will help you maximize your role while empowering your team to take the lead:
Trust Your Team to Own of Their Responsibilities
On any team, each person has unique strengths and abilities that make them uniquely suited for the job. For example, on a football team, there are quarterbacks, running backs, kickers and linebackers—each player has a specific specialty. The same is true on your team: Each person has been selected and hired for their strengths. The key to maximizing your team’s potential is to match people to responsibilities that correspond to those strengths, then give them personal ownership of those areas. Each person must know that they alone are accountable for achieving those individual goals. At Southwest Michigan First, for example, we say that all team members are the “CEOs of their own responsibilities.” For us, that means that everyone is empowered and trusted to succeed on their own as part of the team.
Remember Your Role as a Mentor and Guide
The number-one rule is this: be available. Many organizations have “open-door” policies that encourage team members to approach leaders with any questions they may have. Your goal should be to create an open atmosphere where no one feels afraid or ashamed to talk to their mentors about everything from weekend plans, to project pointers and professional development.
I would also like to challenge you to take this one step forward. In my own life, key mentors who invested their time and energy in my success have made all the difference in my leadership journey. Take the time to be a mentor and check in with your team individually. Over time, this develops an ongoing dialogue. Regular discussions open opportunities to discuss goals, obstacles and how each person can be best supported. Ask about career goals. Ask about their lives outside of the office. This communicates to your team that you care about their success and are willing to help them get there. You may be surprised how this approach changes the culture of your organization.