As you consider the people that make up your group, what is your first move? The smartest thing to do from the outset is to gather them. Immediately join forces. Don’t let a single person feel left out. Bond them together with you and with each other. This gathered time should be both omnidirectional and bidirectional.
Omnidirectional:You need to create an opportunity for everyone to look at each other and be on the same level. Everyone should be validated and known, not just by you, but by everyone else. This could be as simple as wearing name tags, or as involved as taking an overnight retreat with them. As you respect them by giving them a voice, they’ll respect you for your humility.
Bidirectional: There must also be time for you to talk and for them simply to listen and understand. Let them ask questions. Make them repeat important points back to you. Summarize the essentials at the end of this time.
When time is short, get right to the point. Most times, though, you’ll have more of a cushion when it comes to the length of the gathering, but please, please don’t hold people hostage in meetings while you drone on and on about inconsequential details.
Time is of the essence. As the leader, you must discern the right amount of time to invest into your gathering stage. Gathering is imperative. Your hidden advantage as the leader during this time is that you’ll immediately gain insight into personalities and character traits.
When you’re the leader, keep in mind that there are actually three types of dynamics within your group.
1.You and the group as a whole
2.You and the individual members
3.Individual members and each other
You are responsible for all three, all the time.
If one member has an issue with another member, it’s your responsibility to manage it. If two members are making another feel horrible, it’s your responsibility to handle it. That’s what a leader does. I’m not saying you need to have your nose in everyone’s tiniest issue, but you must be aware of and foster synergy within your group.
This is where decisions must fall to the leader. Do you lead the group to vote and have a democratic outcome? Do you pull aside the brightest members and ask their opinions? Do you simply decide for the group with no one else's input? None of those answers are wrong if you have the group’s best interest in mind. Remember that you’re the leader for a reason. The group needs you to lead. There is in fact a real problem that must be solved, and you may not have a lot of time.
A great leader knows how to clearly explain the final goal. I’ve heard this step described as “defining the win.” How does everyone know if progress is being made? How do they know when it’s over and if they were successful? In some situations, like in a soccer game, it’s obvious. Whoever has more points when time runs out wins. Great leaders know how to define goals when they might be hard to pinpoint.
You can’t do it all on your own, and as a leader, you shouldn’t. Your group needs you to lead them. Give the tasks away. Give the responsibilities away. Then make your way around the group, checking in with your team as the tasks are being completed. I’d encourage you to get your hands dirty with them. Offer guidance and/or advice for their specific task when necessary. Be careful to do this with the right attitude, though. You want to encourage and not discourage them. You should also pinpoint other members with leadership skills or influential personalities. Hand off supervisor- type responsibilities to them and trust them to be wise with their duties. Let them oversee sections of the group. Make sure you make it clear to those that these leaders oversee that you’ve put them somewhat in charge. Have these supervisors field questions and sort out problems on your behalf.
Here’s my mantra for you when it comes to this:
Either stop doing everything yourself, or accept that you are merely a hard worker, not a leader. Leaders delegate.
Tasks now need to be completed in order to accomplish your goal. Send everyone out with passion and purpose in your voice. Give them a strong reason to believe that they matter and belong to the group.
Applebee’s was a great place to work. The managers were always easy for me to get along with. One thing I appreciated about them was their mobility throughout their shift. When one person gets behind in their duties at a restaurant, it’s called being “in the weeds.” Each time staff members were “weeded,” a manager would jump in with them at their station. Cooking fries, making salads, washing dishes, busing tables. The way they knew when someone was weeded was from constantly making their way from place to place around the restaurant, checking in. Sometimes they’d merely observe without engaging in any conversation. If a person at a particular station was getting behind, the manager would roll up his or her sleeves and carry some of the load for a few minutes.
After you deploy your members, you need to stay connected to them and help when you can. Just do NOT get stuck for an extended period of time with one or two members. Two things will happen. First, the members that you’re not with may (and sometimes rightly so!) feel that you don’t like them as much. This could be hazardous to your leadership. People that feel neglected and out of the loop will start talking to each other...about you. Always. And it’s rarely positive talking. Second, another member may get “in the weeds,” and you’d have no idea. If one person gets behind, it will eventually affect the whole group’s progress.
When the day is done, when the work is done, whether you accomplished your goal or not, you must bring the group together to discuss what happened. Remember this imperative point, though:
Praise individuals PUBLICLY and criticize individuals PRIVATELY.
Shaming someone in public almost never has the effect you think it will have. In fact, it usually backfires.