As COVID progresses, leaders need to continue to develop their teams. In fact, in some cases, team development may be more important than ever.
It seems that the leaders who developed their teams before COVID continue to do so with extra passion, while those who didn’t invest in development before or did it sporadically and/or poorly, continue in the same way.
Which category are you in? Are you developing your team?
If so, are you doing it healthfully and for the right reasons?
One of my long-time clients is the CEO of a growing global service company. I have known him for more than twenty years, I love and respect him, and I have worked with him probably four or five times over these years, depending on how you count…
The way it typically works, since our initial work together, is that he calls me up about every five or six years out of the blue. I am always excited to hear from him. We get on a call where he catches me up by sharing the tremendous commercial success and growth of his firm since we last saw each other. He is always very vocal and appreciative about my contribution to him and his teams over the years, and then he says something like, “But, I am having similar issues with my team as I had in the past…”. He goes on to share how his leaders feel he is too commanding and controlling, not empowering enough, that trust is not high, people do not own his aggressive strategy… yadda, yadda, yadda… He typically ends by saying, “I know you told me to continue to develop my team, but with all the new acquisitions we have made and growth I dropped the ball…”
He then asks me to help him again to restore trust, alignment, ownership in his team and develop and build his team to become an effective team again, promising, that this time, he will stay the course. But, so far, this same pattern just keeps repeating itself.
I have a few great clients who are the same. They relate to team development as merely a means to an end; a solution to a problem. They apply the principle “If it isn’t broken, don’t touch it”.
When they feel their teams are doing well – and by that, I mean achieving their business goals – they don’t spend a minute thinking about their team’s development. But when they feel trust, alignment, communication, morale are deteriorating in their team, they panic and react by bringing in help.
There is nothing inherently faulty about this approach. Unfortunately, many of these leaders pretend like they are genuinely committed to ongoing team development. They say all the right things, but when push comes to shove, they fold and abandon the development cause without hesitation.
Building a team is often a messy and uncomfortable endeavour. You have to deal with people’s feelings and frustrations. As their leader, your people often have criticism about you and the way you do things.
When you develop your team, you need to be willing to look at yourself in the mirror then own and address any leadership and management deficiencies you see. That is not easy, even for the strongest of heart. So for the faint of heart, it is often the trigger that causes them to quit the development program.
Contrast this with many other leaders I know, and you probably know some too, who view developing their team as a high priority; a value; part of their on-going, never-ending role.
These leaders understand that development is a journey, not an event; a marathon, not a sprint. They stay the course of team development and coaching and don’t let circumstances, challenges or mood swings interfere.
They never ask: “Does my team need development?” They only ask: “What is the next level of development my team needs next?”. They invest as much of their time, focus and passion when their team is doing well and meeting all commitments, as they do when the team is not, and they expect their leaders to do the same with their own teams. This mindset creates a culture of ongoing improvement and excellence, which to be frank is entirely missing in most companies.
In fact, the teams who view team development as a natural and integral part of their routine are the teams most open and susceptible to breakthroughs.
They are also the most nurturing and enjoyable teams to belong to.