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Three Ways to Empower Your Team

Leaders are Listeners

Anyone who has a staff, or has worked in a committee or task team, has hit some bumps on the road to creating a successful collaborative environment. Today we’ll ask some key questions, help you appreciate your team, and make work fun so that you can build a culture where everyone feels empowered to contribute.

  1. Are you listening?  Leaders are listeners.

Can you hear what your team is telling you or are you simply dictating the course of their actions? Does everyone know the overall strategy, or just the tactics? Does your team have the time and the tools they need to accomplish the tasks at hand? Is there a simpler, more effective way to accomplish the work or are you relying on what has always been done? The only way you’ll get good answers to those questions is by listening to your team.

Remember that as a leader you are modeling the behavior of the team. How do you handle questions that arise? Is your body language conveying an open mind or a defensive position? If you are not hearing your team, they won’t listen to each other either. Listening is an investment of your time and energy that will yield a truly collaborative environment.

  1. Everyone at the table has something to contribute. Validate their efforts.

All teams need visionaries, planners, promoters and doers, and all of them need recognition. One of the simplest ways to recognize them is through edification. The visionaries can clearly see “the big picture” and the overall strategy; they see where the current project can take the team in the future and are already envisioning the next big thing. The planners can see the map of progress, can create processes and metrics for accountability. The promoters can see the positives and keep the team energized by breathing life and appreciation into the process through communication. The doers know the value of taking on the tasks that “just need to get done,” are often the quiet ones on the team, but they take direction and are often first to jump in and get their “hands in the clay.”

Pay attention to what contributions are moving your project forward, and offer sincere recognition. You don’t have to go over the moon with lavish praise by any means, but recognizing specific tasks done well, and giving credit will go a long way in creating and sustaining momentum and enthusiasm.

  1. Have some fun and put your team in a collegial mood. 

If your team is a group of volunteers, starting your meetings with time for networking is an easy way to encourage your team to get to know each other better. Use an ice breaker question and give everyone a moment to share.

Whether your team is staff or volunteers, play a game! There are some terrific games online that you can use for team building.I attended a networking event recently where our facilitator used a game called “Quiplash” that we accessed on our phones. A few minutes of hilarity can put people in a relaxed mood, and paved the way to a terrific event.

Taking the time to demonstrate that the people on your teams are heard and valued, and that you appreciate them for more than just the work they do are keys to creating empowered teams. The steps are easy to take!

©2017 Angie Pohlman

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