Leading an Engaged Team

iStock_000052594180_Medium How do you lead a team? What is your leadership style? How do you inspire a group of people to follow you? These are all common interview questions that help hiring managers get to the core of how you lead and influence a team to achieve difficult objectives. Another question you rarely hear, but should consider when communicating your leadership style and experience is “How do you lead an engaged team?”

Think about that question from the perspective of company in corporate America. Typically, companies either make a product or provide a service to customers (often other businesses). In exchange for that product or service, that customer will give the company money (revenue.) The company then pays its bills (costs) and the money that is left over (profit)  can be used to, among other things, reinvest in the business, pay shareholders or stash it away for a rainy day. So, back to the engaged team. One of the ways that businesses maximize revenue is by creating the most productive and engaged teams possible. When a company is evaluating a JMO for potential employment for a team leadership role, they want to know if you have experience creating, fostering and leading engaged teams. Here are some ideas to ponder as you consider your leadership experience and methods:

  • Leaders instill trust. I like the adage “people don’t care what you know until they know that you care” because it brings to light two crucial elements in establishing trust on a team – competence and interest. In my mind, both are equally important in building trust.
  • Leaders communicate. Leaders communicate often regarding the goals of the organization and where the team is relative to the goals. Leaders cultivate an environment where team members to can communicate openly with their leader and feel like their voice is heard and their opinions matter. Effective communication helps to build overall cohesion and productive, effective teams are more likely to deliver higher quality results.
  • Leaders hold their team accountable. The phase you “inspect what you expect” applies here. On an engaged team, team members know what is expected and take pride in delivering results. They are accountable to themselves and the team. Their leader sets an environment of accountability where each member of the team knows what is expected and is striving to deliver consistent results that aid the team in reaching the overall goal.
  • Leaders focus on development. Team members want to get better. This does not mean that everyone on the team wants to rise to the highest ranks of the organization, but that they desire a clear path of development and are striving to improve in quality. This is not easy task for the leader, especially when the team consists of experienced members. It is incumbent upon the leader to motivate and inspire each member to get better and have a clear plan in place to facilitate individual development.
  • Leaders instill pride. This is likely one of the best ways to measure the level of engagement on a team. An engaged team is a proud team. They are proud of their work and proud of their team – they don’t ever want to let their leader down.

Certainly this is not a comprehensive list of traits that a leaders should possess when leading an engaged team. My goal in this post is to bring to light important factors that constitute an engaged team so you can measure where you are and where you want to be.

Best of success!
Pete Van Epps