Leading teams requires a variety of skills and one of the leadership capabilities required is the ability to predict/ know the future or what is to come.
In Marcus Buckingham’s book – One thing you need to know about Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success, Marcus shares five universal fears that humans have and how good leadership can diffuse each of these fears. One of the fears that he mentions is the Fear of the Future and Marcus teaches that great leaders combat this fear by providing clarity of vision.
Now providing clarity of where we are going during these unprecedented times may seem to be a near impossible mission seeing that no one really knows what the future will bring. We may not know what the future will bring but it is imperative that as a team we at least have clarity about 3 things; who we are, why we exist and what we need to accomplish no matter the circumstances.
This means managers or leaders have the duty to paint a vivid picture of the team’s reason for existence, clarify what the team stands for, how they operate and who they serve. In order to provide this clarity, managers have the obligation to articulate the following:
1. The Why – Provide purpose to the team
Each individual in the team needs to know why he/she has to do what they do. Every team member needs to know what they contribute to the bigger picture so that they understand how not showing up or not performing will affect the overall goal. When this is achieved, people will have a sense of belonging and a sense of significance. It is in human nature for people to feel happy when they know that they are needed. It however becomes a plus when an individual’s personal purpose can be married/aligned to the organizational/team’s purpose.
2. The Who – Define and cultivate the culture of the team.
Managers have the role to ensure that specific values and beliefs are shared and embraced by the team. Managers should model acceptable behaviors that are adopted by the team. Values, beliefs and behaviors define who we are as a team. Good leaders illustrate how people should work together as a team. Managers should act as enablers of the intended employee experience. A healthy productive team culture is cultivated with intention.
3. The What – Inspire value creation and delivery.
The team should be clear on what service or product(s) they produce and whom they serve (internal and/or external customer). Additionally, each member of the team should recognize the role that they play in the team’s bigger picture and every individual should strive to deliver value to team members. An inspiring leader is one who creates an enabling environment for people to deliver outcomes that their customers and teammates value. One such leader empowers his/her team and recognizes effort, this boosts the teams’ confidence and results in people becoming very good at what they do thus offering great value.
This is an unpredictable, intense and difficult season to manage and lead staff but the circumstances get better when people are clear about who they are and what they want to achieve. Ways of working may be altered in a bid to adapt to the changing business landscape, products and services may change as customers’ preferences change moreover, whom you serve (internal or external clientele) may also change as the organization takes on a different strategy but always the WHY remains constant. The WHY is the North Star that will guide you in goal setting. When priorities and critical goals are set from purpose/mission, decision-making will be much easier and faster no matter how volatile the environment is and how unpredictable the future is.