Byron's Babbles

The Vital Few of Leading My Team

IMG_0158It is now time for my favorite activity that John Manning (2015) has readers do as part of reading the 52 lessons in The Disciplined Leader. The book is divided into three different parts and Manning (2015) instructs readers to pick their own three vital few from each part that he/she needs to work on. I really like that this is a part of the reading, as it provides a way to reflect on what has been learned in the reading and a chance to put the learning into my own real world context. In other words, the learning meets reality.51cHkuSOUeL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Click here to read my reflection and my vital three from Part I, The Responsibility To Lead Yourself. This post will be a reflection of Part II, The Responsibility To Lead Your Team. Part II included the following lessons:

  • Choose the right words
  • Put your game face on
  • Be in the moment
  • Focus on what is right, not who is right
  • Don’t cross the line
  • Treat everyone fairly
  • Honor your commitments
  • Don’t overuse the “I” word
  • Surround yourself with great talent
  • Hire who is right
  • Empower employees
  • Hold your team accountable
  • Check up on daily goals
  • Give effective performance feedback
  • Spot opportunities to coach
  • Demand more solutions
  • Encourage disagreement
  • Advocate for your team
  • Recognize your employees

As you can see, Part II in The Disciplined Leader had some pretty heavy stuff. It took some studying and long reflecting to decide what my vital three would be. Since I had blogged about all 19 Part II topics, I also went back and studied all my posts. Here are my vital three:

  1. Empower employees
  2. Surround yourself with great talent
  3. Give effective performance feedback

Anyone who works with me or has spent very much time with me will probably not be surprised by these vital three. Empowerment and being surrounded with great talent is essential to the success of any organization. Performance feedback makes the top three because this is an initiative I just formed a task force of teachers to begin working on.

Empower Employees

This is a huge deal for me. I strive to create a “make it so” culture. Our team members are encouraged to be creative, innovative, and self starting. My desire is to have team members come to me with such great, thought out ideas that all I have to do is say, “Make it so!” What I have found is that the more I say “Make it so!” the more innovative and great ideas I get. This is such a powerful tool for employee engagement. We know that employees being engaged and and believing that what she is doing makes a difference is the number one item on the job satisfaction list.

Just last night we had the perfect example of this: A team of teachers presented our new vision, mission, and set of core values to our school board. This was a project of our Focused Leader Academy and our teachers worked through whole rewrite process as well organizing a board retreat session and other stakeholder feedback sessions. The beauty of the process is that the teachers owned it. And, one of the byproducts was the learning and professional growth that went along with the project. Therefore I would add to Manning’s (2015) on empowerment and say that with empowerment also comes professional growth. In fact, empowerment and professional growth are one of our core values:

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Surround Yourself With Great Talent

This is so easily said and much tougher done. I am somewhat of a subscriber to the theory that talent is overrated. Skills must be developed. None of the great athletes, musicians, or artists were born with skills and talent at the top of their games. We all have had to be bad at something to get good and go on to be great. Therefore, surrounding ourselves with great talent also means we have the responsibility to help our team members grow and develop. I call this hyper-personalized professional development. This takes work. This takes a lot of work to imbed in cultures where this has not been a part before. It is, however, crucial for a culture of excellence.

This also relates to empowering our team members. If we want to empower our team members to make decisions and have autonomy to get the work done, then we must provide the hyper-personalized professional development necessary to help them become the great leaders they can be and have the necessary skills to do their jobs at the highest level. It would be ludicrous to empower employees to the level of a “make it so” culture without also provide the necessary knowledge to do the job. This would be the definition of chaos. Therefore, a vital part of my role as a disciplined leader is to go after top talent and then do everything possible to provide for the utmost personal professional growth.

Give Effective Performance Feedback

This vital part of being a disciplined leader is so related to my other vital three in this part of the book because at the core of performance feedback is professional growth. Our teacher performance evaluation process and tool that I inherited leave a lot to be desired. The reason for the deficiencies is how it was developed – top down. Basically, it was a “here it is” development process. There is pretty compelling research that suggests that affected by the performance feedback process should be heavily involved in the development. Leadership needs to come from those affected by it.

My goal for the task force I mention earlier is to come up with an evaluation process that is much more formative than punitive. There must be more regular check-in conversation and not just the once or twice per year evaluations. We are doing our teachers a disservice if all our principals do is check up on teachers once or twice a year. I am looking forward to seeing the work that our teachers do this.

Now that you have had the chance to learn about my vital few, what would you choose as your vital few?

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