Taking Charge Without Taking Charge
Winning the support of a team, especially those most skilled and qualified, requires leaders to take charge without taking over.
What this means is that great leaders set strategy, dial up the right metrics, open their door to any inquiry, and then get out of the way. Becoming a resource to others without imposing mandates and rules is where all good leaders set their sights.
Allowing team members to do what they know how to do seems to be a near-impossible task for some leaders. That’s because their need to direct and control specific outcomes is higher than their need to facilitate achievement.
Once strategy is set, offering support and advice is far different from directing action and overseeing work quality. Leaders who think of themselves as the person who holds others accountable will likely push, rather than pull along, when attempting to motivate performance. The resistance this creates gets in the way of doing great work.
A more inclusive leader doesn’t sit idly by and watch team members flounder or underperform. They also don’t drive performance through demands and directions.
Accountability for skillful leaders is about consistently checking in, talking about how others are doing, discussing the key metrics, and serving as a resource. They don’t take charge as much as they show how much they care about people in their charge.
Team members should come to feel they can’t escape the care of a leader rather than their ever-watchful eye. Knowing that a leader trusts the team and stands ready to contribute when called upon elevates morale and the intrinsic motivation to do quality work.
Leaders who would do anything for others to succeed are fundamentally different from leaders who are desperate to drive team success. Effective leaders understand they can sometimes do too much in an honest effort to reach the next milestone.
By remembering that work quality is always a team sport, leaders can come to provide what team members most need from them to be successful. The best leaders are more likely to take charge of themselves and not others.