Culture gives the Competitive Edge

By: Shatha Al Maskiry and Joy Abdullah 
visual courtesy @carlarieger
visual courtesy @carlarieger

Culture– that all elusive and hard to describe organizational element that fuels how an organization performs– has had a lot written about itself. Yet there is no one-size-fits-all formula that can be applied, across board, for leaders to have the right cultural climate that results in increasing profitability for the organization.

Change in work culture has become a buzz word for many organizations in the Middle East today.  However the organizations are still challenged to effect change failing to appreciate that a written statement with a handful of glamorous values plastered on walls will not do the trick.

The major shortcoming is that change is greatly undermined in terms of the effort, time and investment required. Change is an organizational wide transformation and we have seen it fail because it is not mandated by leadership nor is it communicated through practice in a consistent manner. Diffusing change requires partnership with the workforce and the organizational values must be closely aligned with the strategy and growth plans. If leadership does not lead cultural change, then the mass would; and in most occasions, they would disintegrate it into a collection of varied sub-cultures that are misaligned. This results in a culture of crumbs.

The reasons why change initiatives, in the Middle East, have often failed is because middle management impede it, and fail to see why they must invest a significant amount of their time as change champions.  They fail to see the necessity of leveraging their interpersonal skills and eloquently communicate what is in it for the employees  in order to create a inspiring engine to make the employees the agents of change; as no real change can be realized without involving all stakeholders.

For industries and their organizations across Middle-East and ASEAN region, business is a colonial legacy brought about through the presence of the multi-national organizations. Independent businesses spawned by employees of these corporates operate with similar cultures as the owners were used to during their employment days.  The result of which is having businesses operating with yesterday’s tools and expecting a different result.  

Aren’t we expecting a bit too much?

The colonial legacy, of Middle-East and the ASEAN regions, passed on what is primarily a very individualistic cultural business style.

Whereas the social culture, of both regions, are more community oriented with rigid hierarchy based on age. In the Middle East, it is also based on a diverse spectrum of factors because of imported talent of various nationalities from various fields and cultures.  

Into this enters behavioural changes which people have had due to the global financial crisis of 2008 and rising adoption of technology. Social media, for one, has made the world a much smaller place and has led to the rise of self-interest based communities. Word-of-mouth referral has become a norm for success and failure of a business.  Yet across businesses in these two regions we are yet to see a concerted focus on culture and its resultant impact on business strategy.

Asia today is the economic growth center for the world.  Along with the twin economic tigers—China & India— the Islamic economy, centered out of Middle-East with its hub in Dubai, is adding to the economic growth and impacting across industries.

The Middle East economies have also put a concerted effort in attempting to diversify away from petro dollars. This is a major challenge that cannot be overcome unless there is emphasis and focus on a new type work culture.

A culture that is highly transformational in nature with a set of values that engages and builds bridges for and with the employees in order to mould a
mind-set that is agile enough to serve the current challenges of the new economy with a special focus on productivity and innovation.

This impact is felt by thousands of businesses, corporate and SMEs involved in generating this economic growth and, in turn, by the consumers in these regions. All of this has a direct impact on the culture that employee, entrepreneurs, leaders and their businesses display today.

Globally we are seeing how established industries are being disrupted by new businesses based on the culture they identify and put in place. The one common denominator for success across these organizations is the culture that they create to drive sustainability of their operations.

 Can we achieve new results with old methods?

With 4 generations—Baby Boomers, Gen X & Y and Millennials all in the workforce now– and each generation having very distinct behaviours, developed through socio-cultural and  educational conditioning, can we expect an organization to have engaged employees who are all on the same page with regards to organizational goals and its linkage to them individually?

There are several cultural gaps in Middle East and ASEAN organizations; hierarchy still exists, lack of flat communication, leadership always runs short of time or spend too much time fire-fighting, and there is a general theme where lack of trust and confidence in each other has become the norm until proven otherwise.

Although diversity is part of what compliments a cultural change, it has been a challenge at several organizations where diverse interpretations of events affect everyone very differently.

We need to look at new scenarios, perhaps disruptive ones, and benefits of the same to each generation, to create a culture that allows for a common purpose to be shared across these generations of people in the workplace. It all boils down to giving the people the value they deserve in developing the business.

How can we create new scenarios that actually work in creating an impactful culture?

  1. Respect: Senior leadership behaviour, in organizations, should communicate equal respect for male and female colleagues.
  2. Voice: Move away from the ‘master & slave’ attitude towards a more open ‘partnering’ attitude which provides an environment for employees to voice thoughts and ideas.
  3. Conversations: Create more opportunities for face-to-face in person, or through technology, interactions or conversations where issues successes and failures are openly discussed for its learnings and not to point blame. The more an organization talks, informally on work, the more engaged the employees get. This creates accountability as people want to do their work so that it helps their colleague.
  4. Trust: Create trust through the conversations, by bringing diverse people and skill-sets together on key business projects, and taking their point of view and making them accountable in delivering the agreed goals for the business.
  5. Passion: Recognise the ones with passion for the business and praise them for their initiatives and drive.
  6. Creating Culture: Culture is created either consciously or unconsciously. It exists. We know of it and actually do something to make that culture behave in a manner that is beneficial to the business or not is what defines success today. One may question and ask—how do I create culture as I am not in a position of authority to do so — the answer is that you can create culture in your unit, department, and work section if you consciously decide to do so.

The collective experience and behaviors of the employee is what sums up the organizational culture.

Culture is just like personality and leadership must create the goals, strategies, experiences, interactions, and rewards from the values it preaches in a consistent manner as every experience is a piece of the bigger puzzle. History forms pieces of the puzzle just like language, events, stories and work practices also shape the desired culture. Impactful change is about giving and taking and it can be achieved through formal strategy, systems, and measures with ownership.

Culture change requires changing behaviors and breaking old habits and this is realized through collaboration, training and coaching. In order to continuously reinforce a strong and successful culture change it has to be modeled, taught, repeated, recognized, and rewarded. The end result should be shared values and productive behaviors to create a healthy and harmonious environment.

 

 


About the co-author: Shatha Al Maskiry is a country managing director of Protiviti in Oman. She has 18 years of experience spanning across various consulting roles from process re-engineering, talent risk management, and digital transformation. She is also a certified coach and active in social services especially in coaching youth and students.

 

If Culture Drives Strategy Who Drives Culture?

visual courtesy: www.quoteshunter.com
visual courtesy: http://www.quoteshunter.com

Organizations oft forget that at the core of their existence are people. Employees, customers, partners each in their own way define an organization. The common denominator is People. The behaviour people display through their individual understanding, acceptance and ownership of organizational values reflects the culture of that organization.

This creates a brand experience which impacts profitability and sustainability.

Amongst the stakeholders of a brand employees are the single most important group. Yet, often, when we are developing a brand experience we fail to recognize and incorporate the culture that’s in play.

A critical ingredient in developing a desired brand experience is to ensure there is clear empowerment of individuals. An organization where the employee feels empowered to contribute ideas inspires employees to strive for delivering to the best of his/her abilities and results in engagement.

This engagement leads to specific behaviour that is aligned with the organisational values and manifests as the work culture. Strong teamwork is visible. Positivity is visibly felt and success of individual activities occurs.

Activating a culture creation plan is not easy. It takes time, persistence, consistency, support of the Board and most importantly clarity of business goals, functional roles and individual development.

 CULTURE IMPACTS BUSINESS

As individuals our names give us part of our identity. So also with brands who have their names and logos. But that’s half the job done. Our personality and behaviour, with our name, provides the full experience of ourselves when we interact with another person. Together this makes for our complete identity. Similarly brands, through employees and their behaviour coupled with organisational processes, create specific experiences for a brand stakeholder that lead to having a complete identity of a brand.

Where brands are concerned the specific experience a stakeholder goes through is purely dependent on two factors:

  1. Employee behaviour
  2. Organisational processes

The impact of behaviour and service quality, in terms of process, creates either a positive or negative perception of the brand in the stakeholders’ mind and affects the buying decision and ultimately impacts on the bottom-line of the business.

WHERE DO WE START?

Leadership!

Developing an effective corporate culture is not an external effort. It is purely an internal exercise that needs as much attention and planning for effective implementation, as the regular functions of an organisation.

The leadership of an organisation needs to provide clarity of its business and the brand experience it wants stakeholders to have. This then needs alignment between organisational and departmental goals and desired behaviour of employees.

Changing behaviour is very difficult.

Work habits are part of our individual cultural make-up that we carry with us when we walk into a job. Affecting change requires having a consistent engagement program through which employees clearly feel and get a feeling of pride and value.

Four Steps to Developing an Employee Engagement Program:

  1. Identify the platform on which the culture would be based. The ethics and social norms it would want to promote and foster among all its stakeholders. Based on this ethical platform determine the values that the brand should stand for.
  2. Inform and internalize these values to the employees by clearly linking them to their work functions and relating back as to how not projecting the same affects the brand and in turn affects the bottom-line. Provide as much clarity to employees here to show the impact on revenue.
  3. Get the employees involved. Get employees to write down, in their own words, how they would project the values in terms of their behaviour.
  4. Ensure measurement. A measurable, performance indicator has to be in place which should be clearly explained to the employee and ensured that comprehension is there.

KEEPING THE MOMENTUM

Having initiated the program, keeping momentum is extremely important. A structured internal communications program, aimed at regularly highlighting organizational achievements and the responsible team or employee who achieved it will aid the program significantly.

What this does is:

  1. It informs the organisation as to who’s championing specific activities.
  2. It creates peer acknowledgement for the high performers.
  3. It motivates the competitive spirit within divisions to do their bit and get their names on the communication roster.

As a team employees move in one planned direction in delivering the desired brand experience. This benefits the brand as all stakeholders receive a very positive brand experience. In turn this strengthens the brand relationship with the stakeholder and leads to increasing revenue.

WHY WE DO NOT DO THIS?

Across Asia corporate cultures are still largely governed by the ‘command-and-control’ leadership practices that actually alienate employees.  Instead of people being the key focal point for a brand in developing its relationships, the focus is on profits through higher sales & lower costs.

Gunning for increasing profits, year on year, is not wrong. Any business needs to be profitable. That’s why it’s in business. But the strategy to profitability needs to take into account the community and society the business operates in. Without a clear benefit to both any business would not be sustainable in the long-term.

As managers we veer away from undertaking new approaches because we are conditioned to be risk-minimisers & profit-maximisers through years of doing it.

Here’s the catch—as a business leader if you do not put your people first and focus on what benefits them, how can you get them to give a positive brand experience to the stakeholders who matter to you and who pay the revenue the business generates?

 WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

Get involvement.

Involvement is the critical element. Intuitively we all understand what involvement is and how powerful a force it can be. When we are told to do something, we do it and then tend to forget about it. But when we are involved in something, we tend to be possessive and own it on an emotive level. 

When emotions come into play passion emerges and enables for a strong, positive experience to take place. This leads to developing trust. As trust grows, relationships strengthen and repeat usage and referrals occur.

The question to ask—is there involvement?

Involvement requires that a strong group process, where meetings and interactions take on a deeper meaning, be in place. A deeper meaning where one focuses more on authentic and honest conversations that emanate from appreciating and valuing the people on the team and not letting personal biases and egos come in the way.

Once a strong group process is in place it leads to strong relationships within individuals for implementing the planned activities. As each individual owns the activity ensuring quality deliverables in terms of content and channel is not hard. As a result of this each interaction of the brand goes to become more personal, emotive and honest. Together it leads to having a positive brand experience.

WHAT’S THE BENEFIT?

By taking the pains of involving & engaging employees and defining the culture, organisations can build up a very strong competitive advantage that results on both a strong brand identity as well as a healthy bottom line.

A positive and enriching brand experience is the output of having involved and engaged employees. Such experiences become the differentiator for a business vis-à-vis its competitor and leads to increased business through referrals and re-purchase thus impacting positively on the bottom line.

Manage Change Before It Manages You

Just as shifting city and home and moving to a new place has its initial period of anxiety, a change in business direction or in leadership in the organisation, brings about a period of anxiety, uncertainty and a plethora of questions within an organisation.

Change in any form is uncomfortable for us humans. We are creatures of habit and habit breeds its own sense of comfort and discomfort. Take for example our daily work day routine. If one of the items in our daily ‘routine’ goes out of whack, we get irritated and at times, are at a bit of a loss.

Business activities are managed by humans and thus when an organisation implements a change from what it had done; it brings about a fair bit of response. Some good, some not so good and some downright harmful to the business. The ‘enthusiasts’ (or early adopters) latch on to the big picture that the changed direction portrays and willingly start to move forward in the new direction. The ‘yes sir/no sir’ (followers) goes into a ‘wait and watch’ mode to try gauge which way is the wind blowing. Lastly comes the ‘resistant brigade’! A group who clings on desperately to yesteryears and falls back on the achievements of the past years.

Each of these three groups have an impact on the brand and its’ experience: 

1.   Enthusiasts: In their eagerness to contribute to the new, changed business direction, the enthusiasts rush into action without deeply evaluating the long-term benefit of the actions to the brand and the ability of the brand to deliver on the changed direction. Often more manpower and resources are taken up on these changed new actions if they are not evaluated for effectiveness. Enthusiasts often times end up working long hours alone leading to quick burnouts when operating at very high stress levels due to continuous delivery demands of the added new tasks.

2.  Followers: This group’s indecisiveness and inability to ask for clarity leads them to either do the work activity wrong or to take too long over it and thus deliver well after the timeline is past. In effect, making the task inefficient.

3. Resistant Brigade: Often the largest group, these try to push back through the “this is how it was done” process with the intention that if continuous resistance can be applied by using defunct processes and bureaucratic red-tape  then the enthusiasts would either burn their fire out or leave. All the resistance group succeeds in doing is wasting critical time and damaging the brand image through their inability to move forward.

 

How do we bring groups 2 & 3 around to see the positives in the new strategic direction or change that the organisation is undertaking:

  1. Transparency:  Line managers have to understand the change and explain, at length, how that change is beneficial and tie it back to the individual roles of staff and their function with regards to the effect it has on the brand’s identity.
  2. Top-down Leadership:  Senior management has to have in place, a support team selected from rank & file to ensure successful delivery of key projects that would aid in bringing the required change. This team should be empowered with the required authority in order to put in place new processes to enable change to take hold.
  3. HR in the Forefront: HR needs to be at the forefront in terms of providing senior management the right team, skills and competency wise, in order to help deliver required changes. Internal talent development becomes a priority for HR and is the starting point for staff performance evaluations.
  4. Deadline: An end target date for achievement of certain critical projects needs to be up in front. Critical projects that affect the brands’ reputation should be selected from the pool of projects that is in active stage and be project managed through specific project teams.

Following this 4 steps approach would enable an organisations’ leadership to bring about groups 2 & 3–followers & the resistance brigade— by having them involved in the critical projects, with each individual having a specific task aligned with their respective job-function.

What’s the benefit in doing this?

  1. Easier management of key projects to achieve success leading to revenue growth and establishing the desired brand reputation.
  2. Having in place a core team, a second line of command so to speak,  across critical functions upon whom senior management can depend to take the brand forward.
  3. Having in place efficient processes that aid in forward planning of daily work.

Exercise choice carefully

CHOICE

The act of choosing; selection.

The power, right, or liberty to choose; option.

Choice consists of the mental process of judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one of them. 

Every minute of our lives, we are ‘Choosing’ i.e. selecting a course of action that brings about a particular effect. In other words, our process of choosing provides the cause and based on the choice we have an effect that affects us.

In our daily lives we go through this process without even realising it. Where the effect has a low impact or is part of routine we don’t ponder on the choice for long. But when it’s to do with an issue that we feel is important, we do take our time to evaluate all the information we have and then ‘Choose’.

Yet, many a time, as professional managers, there are choices (for our careers, for our work and for our self-development) that we make where do not fully exercise C.H.O.I.C.E.

What’s C.H.O.I.C.E.?

Choice is six simple steps that have been very helpful to me in decision-making. Here’s how I use it:

Clarity   Honesty   Objectively   Intelligently   Commitment   Express

1. Clarity:

  • Understand what the problem, issue or opportunity is clearly. Without clearly understanding the issue we won’t know what information we need to solve it.
  • Be clear on the result that you want i.e. the goal you want to achieve. Without clarity on the end result, we won’t know the destination we want to arrive at.

2. Honesty:

  • Be brutally honest with yourself and your team in identifying the problem or issue.
  • Be equally honest in evaluating if you have the required resources and ability to deliver the chosen course of action to achieve the goal.

3. Objectively:

  • Be rational in planning each step leading to the goal. Identify the skills, expertise and resources needed, who has them, where you can get them from and at what cost.
  • Make the team members understand the problem and the solution recommended and how their individual skills and expertise would help in providing the solution to the problem. This will help in the team understanding their own responsibilities and value. In addition, it will help the team in developing trust for each other by knowing that individually they can’t achieve but pooling in their collective skills and working on each step together will bring them to achieve the end goal.

4Intelligently:

  • Obtain the necessary information that you need to make an objective choice.
  • Use information to fill in knowledge gaps where applicable i.e. a new market entry for a product—research the consumer segment, know all about the consumer’s need for the product you are going to introduce, understand competitive environment.

5. Commitment:

  • Be committed to the task at hand. Show passion for it and own the project: A team that sees commitment will invariably be motivated to deliver their best as passion (with facts) is a very strong influencer in team dynamics.

6. Express:

  • Communicate always with your team, your superiors, and peers. Express your thoughts and your point of view succinctly and take feedback. This shows your willingness to make the choice based on rational and beneficial facts and empowers your team to support you in the decision-making process.

So the next time you need to make a choice, use these six steps. You may just surprise yourself at how smoothly you’d achieve your goal.

If you found CHOICE helpful then you’d like –‘A new look at your business.  

Coming next– ‘What’s your purpose in business’.

<!–[if gte mso 10]>

1.Objectively:

§Be rational in planning each step leading to the goal. Identify the skills, expertise and resources needed, who has them, where you can get them from and at what cost.

§Make the team members understand the problem and the solution recommended and how their individual skills and expertise would help in providing the solution to the problem. This will help in the team understanding their own responsibilities and value. In addition, it will help the team in developing trust for each other by knowing that individually they can’t achieve but pooling in their collective skills and working on each step together will bring them to achieve the end goal.

2.Intelligently:

§Obtain the necessary information that you need to make an objective choice.

§Use information to fill in knowledge gaps where applicable i.e. a new market entry for a product—research the consumer segment, know all about the consumer’s need for the product you are going to introduce, understand competitive environment.

 

Cultural Impact of Leadership

leadership
Courtesy:www.hdwallpapersplus.com

How often have you sat in a meeting where there were only three key issues for discussion?

  1. Impact of leadership on the organisation
  2. Evaluating key technical & behavioural competencies of the employees that has delivered the results
  3. Exploring the benefits and negatives of the work culture in operation

Chances are your response would be—“once” OR –“not at all”!!

This doesn’t surprise me, as in the Asian context, these are quite sensitive issues to discuss and are always swept under the carpet as being not directly related to business activity. But that’s where we make a mistake!

Leadership, the people in the organisation, and the culture—all three– are key elements in how the organisation brand is perceived and in its sustainability or its’ ability to be profitable over time and keep delivering value to its eco-system.

I have written earlier on how leadership affects brand sustainability and on work culture and how it creeps in  and on the importance of having engaged employees.

Leadership styles in the C-Suite have a direct correlation with profitability of an organisation. The correlation comes through the attitude and performance of the senior management team who are tasked with the strategy development & execution.

If the leadership style is one of humility, empathy and authenticity there will be clarity of purpose and a team that’s well-engaged in the business mission. This results in positive behaviour manifested as a working culture of interactiveness, co-partnering  and healthy team participation across key projects for the organisation.

On the other hand if the leadership is a control & command’ style wherein the C-Suite is aloof, unapproachable, not-present and indecisive there will emerge a serious gap between the leadership & the senior management. This gap will foster a lack of clarity on strategic goals & in communication. This can, and usually is, disastrous for the organisation from a business growth, employee morale & brand reputation perspective.

As a leader a key requirements is understanding the prevailing culture and in using specific leadership styles to influence employees to generate engagement and buy-in from the employees.

 

Why is buy-in critical?

A leader is given the mantle of leadership. This is a responsibility and in the corporate world, it usually is associated with designations.

Yes, always, the head of an organisation is the leader by virtue of the C-level designation and yes, the buck stops there with regards to reporting of organisational performance to the board.

But neither the designation nor the reporting process provides the leader the buy-in of the employees or the people who are the face of the brand.

Obtaining buy-in from the senior management & rank and file takes some hard work.  A few key attributes that are “must-haves” in this hard-work area are:

  • empathy
  • humility
  • getting hands dirty

These three attributes, by far, are the ones that endear a leader with the team. When people sense and feel that their leader understands, listens and is willing to work together to get the job done well, most throw in their lot behind this type of leader. Net result is an engaged and energized organisation where the authentic energy is palpable by the respective stakeholders as they interact with various people from the organisation.

Does all of this sound too esoteric?

It’s not. The key here is authenticity & communication.

Authenticity demands you to be human i.e. show vulnerability, be yourself and acknowledge that without the team you can’t achieve. In other words, show appreciation and recognition.

Communication, based on this authenticity, resonates strongly with people across an organisation as it’s pitched on an emotional level. People are emotional beings by nature and operate from the perspective of ‘feel—think—do’.

So can an organisation get this going in a beneficial way?

Yes! It’s very possible to do this provided the leadership commits its time and prioritises this as a primary project. If done well the cultural change will result in a regular productive behaviour over time.

In my next post I’ll share with you my 3-steps for aligning leadership style with organisation culture.

 

Think Before You Speak

Communication.
Communication– Visual Courtesy “Dilbert” by Scott Adams http://www.dilbert.com

Have you experienced the feeling of utter dread immediately after uttering a very cynical or hurtful statement? In that moment, you wish you could erase the words you said so that the situation that unfolds didn’t occur! Alas, a bullet once fired cannot be recalled back by the gun that fires it.

As a C-level leader it’s so very important to be careful about the words one uses, the tone in which it’s spoken and the impact the words will have.

Why so?

As a leader your team is constantly picking up direction from your verbal and non-verbal cues. What this means is that, inspite of policies and processes being in place, people at work have an un-written behaviour of constantly observing each and every interaction the leader has and interpreting the same their own, individual, ways. This interpretation is not a one-size fit all but is based on the:

  • individuals’ attitude
  • position at work
  • life & work experience

Combined these, three attributes, provides the mental and emotional backdrop of the sociocultural behaviour the employee brings to the table.

Thus, what could be a seemingly innocuous statement uttered in context of the point being debated, can actually be interpreted as offensive and even rude.

In such cases the impact of the spoken statement can have devastating effects in the long-term. In the short-term, it impacts on the credibility, integrity and trust that the leader commands.

People are emotional beings. At work, whether we like that fact or not, we have to accept this. A lot about ‘leadership by heart’ is out in the public domain (here’s one of the best so far, in my opinion). What’s important for organisations today is to acknowledge, accept and use that to increase engagement between employees and the organisational leadership. As the increasing engagement has a direct correlation to both effectivity & profitability.

Let’s come back to our ‘think before you speak’—we know communication, for leaders, is a vital skill. However, the techniques of communication do not tell you what to communicate or, in other words, the content or words that a leader speaks.

As a leader you need to be careful of the words that you use and you need to evaluate the impact those words would have against the outcome you want. A technique I’ve always found helpful is the ‘pause 1..2..3..

This is where you pause for 3 seconds before you speak. How does this help you? It allows the first set of words in your mind to be quickly reviewed and amended. Why do so? So that you can speak honestly and be interpreted in the same manner and get your desired outcome from the statement without your leadership communication skills being put to question.

It’s just a simple exercise in self-restraint and developing the habit of providing clarity. Done on a regular basis across professional and personal life, you will notice the increasing discussions that your colleagues and family will be engaging in with you.

What your team says about you, says a lot about your Leadership

Team Reward B 2013
and Team reward 2013 The A-Team

Mon Aug 19, 2013:

This post is a special thank you to my team mates at work:

Thank you, Asmawi, Ainan, Baidura, Efie, Mulyadi & Normas for giving me the honour of leading you.

The day was a landmark day for me!

Whilst it was my birthday on the day, it was the day my team decided to give me feedback on my leadership.

<–Here’s their feedback…

Getting their feedback was excellent. Having invested time in teaching best practice standards and key work skills over the past two years, it was heartening to see how the team has grown in their competencies. Grown both, individually and professionally.

This is a team that now relishes tough deadlines, shoestring budgets and works as a team to deliver, monetary value and brand value to the organisation.

I decided to share this learning as an immediate example of how, as a leader, you can earn rewards that go far beyond the usual performance incentives. As a team leader, I’ve always believed that the best reward is learning that one has had a strong influence and impact on one’s team and aided that person to become improve him or herself.

That’s exactly what this great A-Team of mine has now played back to me!

Today this team evaluates each activity strategically and aligns the impact and end-result to benefit the key result areas of the organisation as they execute activities. They work in a standard project management style. A system that was non-existent two years ago.

It’s a long road that we’ve travelled as a team and as their team leader I’m proud to have the opportunity to be leading this fantastic team!

Thank you guys.

So what’s the learning here as a leader?

1.Empathy: The important ingredient in getting a team to jive and dance together is being empathetic. Understanding their cultural make-up, attitudes and habits and showing them how the recommended changes aid them helped in developing the team culture.

2. Trust: Rolling up my sleeves and working along them showed them leadership by example. Not just directing, but working with the team side-by-side, no matter how big or small the activity was, showed them the thinking required behind the activity, the project management standards to deliver on, the need to have an eye for detail, brought about trust. The team did fail in areas and that was expected. As their team leader, taking care of the failures and highlighting the achievements earned me their trust.

3. Coaching: Empowering the team to think through required initiatives, as a team, allowed me to develop my coaching skills. It helped in identifying the areas of individual development that team members needed, including areas of leadership development for myself.

So, what does your team say about your leadership?

Take feedback and  learn how your leadership is affecting them. After all leadership is not a one way street but a two-way emotional interaction.