In my former life, I spent several years as the campus president of a post-secondary college which provided me with an incredible crash course in leadership. And as I’ve continued my leadership journey, I’ve found there are several fundamental skills you need to lead teams effectively. And these five quotes illustrate the fundamentals beautifully.
“To acquire knowledge one must study, to acquire wisdom, one must observe.”—Marilyn vos Savant
And I’d add that observing and understanding group dynamics and politics isn’t easy. But you must understand where people are coming from to enhance the value of what currently exists, as well as break any dysfunctional patterns. Leading a team, with guns a blazing, without understanding the group dynamic can wreak havoc and put you on the target list.
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”—John Maxwell
Maxwell is right. It’s tough to get your point across when people don’t like or respect you. So the key to building influence is increasing the strength in your relationships. Learning about your team members, their strengths/weaknesses, career goals, fears, and current experience level is vitally important. If you can learn the individual dynamics of each of your team members and how that plays a part in the whole, you’ll be one step ahead of the game to effectively nurture each member.
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”—Warren Bennis
No one defines leadership better than the highly influential leadership thinker and Linkage’s Global Institute for Leadership Development co-founder Warren Bennis. Having and articulating a vision with your team is harnessing the power of the imagination and gives an overarching big picture goal to collectively achieve. Sharing your vision is a powerful motivating factor that answers the big “WHY” question. Why do what we are doing? I’ve found that having an understanding of the purpose of things helps me and others to “buy in” and engage more.
“Clarity is Power. The clearer you are about exactly what you want the more your brain knows how to get there.”—Anonymous
The author of this quote may be anonymous but that hardly diminishes its relevance. In fact, nothing is more important to holding a team accountable for objectives than clarity. Without clarity, group members will lose focus, drive, effectiveness, and engagement. Muddled leadership leads to failure.
“Without trust we don’t truly collaborate; we coordinate or at best, cooperate. It is trust that transforms a group of people into a team.”—Stephen Covey
I’ve found simple ways to build trust as a leader. And it often starts with the little things such as: following through with your word even on the small things; creating a culture that encourages consistent and open feedback; turning crisis issues into coachable moments, celebrating and sharing wins, and attending outside education or team-based events, which all lead to better team trust.
For further reading, New York Times best-selling author, and GILD 2015 faculty member, Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team adds valuable insights into what absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results can do to destroy teams.
At the end of the day, leadership is nothing more than influence. Leaders influence others to do what they are asked to do, what they “should” do, and most importantly what they aspire to do.
What are you doing to inspire others?