Provide a Map-How Effective Leaders Direct their Teams

Michelle Riklan  |  March 2, 2016
last updated

Effective Leaders Direct Teams You’ve got your company goals set on paper, in digital formats, and on signature lines of internal communication. Your team knows there is a destination but do they also know how to get there? Are you all moving toward a common direction or tugging on opposite sides? Sometimes, an effective leader has to provide a map (or at least a compass) in order to effectively direct their teams. Here are ways of merging objectives and directing individuals to arrive at your destination of living the goal. Effective leaders color a vivid end-scenario, connect each role to the goal, establish clear landmarks, and check-in regularly and re-collaborate.

How Effective Leaders Direct Their Teams

Color a Vivid End-Scenario

If your goal is to be among the top 3 consulting agencies in the city, your team needs to recognize what that will look like when achieved. Describe the scene.

The consultants are all well-trained, certified, and prompt in responding to client concerns. Your reception and admin is operating like a well-oiled machine so that follow-ups aren’t really necessary.
The consultants are buzzing with ideas for clients, and they know how to execute these ideas.

Target figures should always form part of the measure. But painting vivid, relatable imagery provides a clear indication and powerful visualization target.

For additional reading on this topic, you might take a look at “Create a Personal Vision Statement“.

Connect each Role to the Goal

The Sales and Marketing Department knows it’s responsible for tapping new markets and optimizing existing accounts to fill consulting slots. But other back-of-the-house sections may not be aware of how their tasks keep clients returning. Demonstrate “If this, then that” situations with pre-recorded or actual role-playing to show how their actions influence client behavior.

If a researcher in your team doesn’t promptly release the required information, then that will slow down the team, delay the deadline, and spill over to other projects set up for the next months.

A single misstep results in multiple complaints from two clients.

Establish Clear Landmarks

Are we there yet? Excitement is the reason children repeatedly ask that question. But if your direct reports are wondering or are indifferent about their progress, then you, as a leader, may have failed to provide milestones.

Creating a clear signal shows when they’ve passed a landmark, which is both an accomplishment and proof that they’re on the right track. Monthly revenue, new business, and sales figures are objective milestones. Client comments and industry awards are subjective pats on the back. Announce milestone accomplishments in a big way and acknowledge or connect individual contributions toward reaching those landmarks.

It is necessary to meet with the team when they are drifting away from the goal but conduct the meeting in an atmosphere of exploring solutions together. There’s no room here for fault-finding or reprimands.

Check In Regularly and Re-calibrate

Shouldn’t we be there by now? That’s a very good question. Set a time-frame to forecast the time you expect to pass landmarks and arrive at destination so everyone can pace themselves.

Time-frames facilitate your leadership role of checking in regularly to direct the process. Scheduled pit stops are opportunities for celebration or for re-calibration. Like Waze, you can shift paths when unforeseen obstacles show up and use these audits like effective leaders do, to save their teams from aimlessly moving in the opposite direction from the goal. They also serve as criteria for individual performance appraisals.

For additional reading on this topic, you might take a look at “A Few Great Ways to Collaborate with Your Team“.

Any traveler knows a smooth journey is the exception rather than the rule. Reaching your departmental goals are exactly the same. Expect surprises, accept changes, and understand there’s a whole lot more to learn from the journey. The destination is a bonus.

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Michelle Riklan is president of Riklan Resources. She is based in the New York, NY Region. She is a specialist in corporate team development and public speaking skill classes.
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