Leaders needs to allow a certain level of risk in their organisation, allowing their team to express themselves without feeling like they are taking a risk by doing so. They should also allow their followers to exhibit an entrepreneurial spirit.
The leader needs to provide a platform that will allow his/her team to make mistakes, and to learn from them. They are valuable learning mechanisms if adequately recorded, analysed and learnt from. A level of calculated risk is essential in business: foster the enthusiasm and confidence necessary for this, and unequivocally support your team in their ventures.
Encourage them to think and do differently. The culture of an organisation will define how the people cope with change, as the culture is often defined by the simple headline, “This is how we do it”.
Give your team exposure to new challenges, a chance to knock their heads and learn the hard way. Don’t try to make things too easy. Never allow what can be termed ‘protective parenting’, making a situation easy short term, but not capacitating someone long term.
Encourage a sense of independence in each individual, and collectively a feeling of inter-dependence. Also encourage reinvention, the potential to improve actions and elements of the workplace, even when they seem good. Let the aspiration be to become great rather than good.
Allow your team to take responsibility, especially when it comes to their mistakes. You need to know that you as the leader may have to step in as a last resort—often effective when a client needs to be ‘smoothed over’, managed and massaged, or when payment is not forthcoming. A leader’s intervention is often a last resort that sees results. With resilience, one emerges from an experience stronger. Resilient team members exhibit flexibility, focus, positivity and humour. They are able to learn from their mistakes, to recognise and use opportunity to their best advantage and to stay focused on the overall goal. Build a culture that thrives on success. Talk about it and let everyone smell it. Constantly offer approval rather than criticism.
Offer a platform on which people can express themselves freely, yet appropriately. A leader who listens and encourages feedback is better engaged with his/her employees. He/she needs to understand what people want and need, and then must allow them the appropriate time and place to communicate.
Staff will not care about what you know or want or need to know, until they are confident that you, the leader, care. How do they know you care? You tell them.
If team members are expressing themselves in a time of crisis or uncertainty in a negative or aggressive fashion, the leader needs to be able to placate them and orchestrate a turnaround from one type of expression to another.
In addition, it is imperative that the leader sets the tone for expression. It is not appropriate for people to express themselves in an unprofessional manner. Younger team members who have not worked in a business environment before may need some pointers but, if not given adequate training in business expression and etiquette (communication), they will merely play follow-the-leader. Young, fearless recruits who like to be outspoken may need some parameters for expression. This may need to extend into dress, body language and other aspects of good communication.
While a leader never demands that the team should just accept the status quo, if he/she is happy for them to question it, he/she needs to show them how. While intellectual imagination is to be encouraged, so is appropriateness. Leadership is not about exhibiting the loudest voice in the team; it is about encouraging others to find their voices.
Can-do entrepreneurial spirit
Foster an entrepreneurial spirit. Why? Because entrepreneurs don’t just say they can do it—they actually do it. They like responsibility and control, and are not daunted by the prospect of risk. They have a certain kind of boldness and know the importance of having vision. They see challenges as an opportunity to prove themselves, and they often relish the chase of securing the business. They are largely confident, dedicated, hard-working people.
For additional to-do’s and debates to have with your team, visit the Leadership website.
Jenny Handley is a brand, leadership and high-performance facilitator. Her latest book, Raise your Leaders™ is available as an in-house leadership academy for companies. Visit www.jennyhandley.co.za