Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

It’s easier than you might think for a leader to upset the morale of a team.

If you are in any kind of management or leadership role, you know that managing different personalities and work styles can be difficult. Everyone has their little peccadillos that need to be handled appropriately.

But there are things that some leaders do that will almost universally upset the balance and morale of a team. It’s not that your team are delicate snowflakes that need to be handled with kid gloves, but they are people and they have feelings. If you abuse them or their trust, you will have a morale problem on your hands that will be very difficult to walk back from.

Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

Here are some ways you can really freak out your team. The moral of this story? Don’t do them.

1. Be an Emotional Yo-Yo

One minute, you’re happy and laughing. The next minute, you’re slamming your office door and giving people the silent treatment. Are your mood swings even related to work? Or are you bringing your personal life to the office? Like the Hare and the Tortoise, slow and steady wins the race. Whatever is going on in your life or at the office, you need to display outward calm and control.

I knew a manager once whose employees would do a walk-by of her office to peek in at her and see how she was looking before daring to go in to ask for time off, or even a simple query about a project. That’s not leadership. The instability this causes among team members is a major hit to morale.

2. Be a Bully

Unless you’re wearing a crown, you don’t get to behave like a bully. And even if you are wearing a crown, it might not be a good idea. Intimidation and public humiliation are not management techniques. Using threats to get results will not propel a project forward in a positive way but will result in people feeling like their jobs are constantly on the line.

It even comes down to the way you communicate with your team. Good leaders ask for input and make requests. Bad leaders demand things of their team. The rules of the game apply to you too, and don’t think your team won’t notice if you think they don’t.

3. Make Poor HR Decisions

Even worse than making a poor HR decision is not making them at all. Your team needs you to make hard decisions, not pussyfoot around. Not dealing with team members who aren’t performing or have a negative attitude is a great way to bring down morale. It looks like you have no interest in the team or the project at best, or that you are blithely unaware of the problem, at worst.

Putting the right people in the right roles so that they can do their jobs effectively is not an exercise in politics or patronage. It’s an exercise in getting the job done. The right people are those who are qualified and motivated to do the work. If you’ve done your job correctly, by putting together a good team, you won’t need to micromanage them, treating them like kindergartners.

4. Stop Communicating With Your Team

This is on the same line of thought as ‘not being an emotional yo-yo’, above, but even more so, a good leader is straightforward with their team. Don’t make your staff guess at what you’re trying to tell them. Improperly communicating expectations will just result in the team not meeting them. Why? Because they can’t read your mind!

Feedback is essential for good team building. Not the dreaded once a year annual review, which no one appreciates, but on an ongoing basis. A good leader will offer positive or constructive feedback throughout the lifecycle of a project. Bad leaders will say nothing until they’re unhappy, equating feedback with criticism. Eventually, team members will avoid communicating with a leader who can’t or won’t share useful comments.

In the same vein, building a culture of blame and finger pointing instead of finding solutions to problems is a communication issue. If you are only looking for the holes and who created them, instead of finding ways to mend them, you’re not going to get far.

5. Take the Credit Where It’s NOT Due

By far, one of the easiest ways to upset a team is to blame them when things go wrong but take all the credit when things go right. Worse, if you refuse to admit when you don’t know something or when you are wrong about something. It comes down to being forthright and clear with your team, and having an understanding that without them, you have nothing. Appreciating their efforts is the single best way to boost their spirits and commitment.

Building a team and being a good leader are remarkable goals. They’re totally attainable as long as you keep both feet on the ground and work to achieve them with honesty and purpose.

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Can an Introvert Be a Great Leader? | BridgeBetween.com

Can an Introvert Be a Great Leader?

Absolutely!

Connecting introversion and leadership isn’t obvious. A lot of people assume that an introvert cannot be good at communicating, influencing, managing and inspiring. A lot of people might be wrong.

An introvert, by definition, is someone who is reserved or shy, someone “whose attention and interests are directed toward one’s own thoughts and feelings.” (Source) So by the very definition, it’s not outlandish that people might think that introversion is an unlikely character trait for a successful leader.

Here are a few reasons, however, which show that being an introvert does not necessarily make leadership impossible:

Introverts are more careful

Whereas an extrovert might run headlong into a new project or a new idea, an introvert is more likely to give it careful consideration first. While an extrovert might spit out a comment without thinking of the consequences, an introvert will always consider their words more carefully. This gives the impression of not being enthusiastic or overly passionate when in fact, this kind of thoughtful deliberation is precisely what you want to see in a leader.

Speed in action, thought and word is often seen as competent and strong. There is value in taking time to make sure that the decisions being made are the right ones. The credibility that a good decision will build is worth a lot more to a leader than being ‘first’, in the long run.

Introverts have incredible listening skills

Whereas many, though not by all means all, extroverts are partial to the sound of their own voice, introverts are less likely to speak. Idle small talk is not their forte, so an introvert will spend more time listening to those around them, absorbing what is being said. Active listening skills are essential for an effective leader, and while someone who is not a good listener will likely spend their non-speaking time formulating their next statement, an introvert will actually be hearing the words being said to them.

Letting others do the talking can lead to a lot of insight, not just into issues and problems, but in the social dynamics of team members and the effectiveness of groups. A team that is led by someone who is always talking, who is always providing the ‘solutions’, will never think for themselves.

Introverts have no issue being the cheese that stands alone

Leaders are very often on their own since the proverbial buck stops with them. They are responsible, ultimately, for their team and the consequences of any actions taken by their team. But working and standing alone aren’t new concepts to any introvert, and in fact, many relish the solitude. They work best on their own, and while they are often fully capable of working on a team, their most creative and effective work is done alone.

The downtime an introvert requires in between bouts of managing issues and people is what provides them with the ability to be more reflective rather than reactive. It’s more of a slow-moving process of action, but this leads to less quick, knee-jerk decisions, which can sometimes have unintended but nonetheless trying consequences.

Introverts can be calm versus crazed

An introvert is far more likely to seem calm, even during a crisis. And that can be a good thing. Someone who is always in panic mode, seemingly crazed and ready to pounce, is not projecting stability and control, two things that people will look for in a leader. That control builds trust and trusting in a leader allows both team members and external partners to feel confident in the decisions being made and actions being taken.

Collaboration and depth are key for introverts

Whereas an extrovert is more likely to see their judgment and decisions as obvious and clear, not requiring the participation of others, an introvert will look to a more collaborative approach. While they are quite happy standing alone, as I said above, they would prefer people on their team be part of the decision, not just the receivers.

And while an extrovert might be keen to cover all the bases/goals /deliverables that they can, covering things on a more superficial level, an introvert will be more interested in delving in depth into issues. Depending on what it is that they are dealing with, each approach can have positive outcomes.

Do you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extrovert?

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What Makes a Great Leader? | BridgeBetween.com

What Makes a Great Leader?

Are leaders born or is leadership learned?

It’s a little bit of both, but it’s more complicated than an either/or statement so let’s look more closely at the aspects of personality that make a great leader. Why? Because one thing that IS true is that calling someone a leader/CEO/President doesn’t make them a leader.

What are some personality traits of a great leader?

Authenticity

Someone who is not authentic or honest is obvious. This can be observed in social media interactions every single day. The ‘influencers’ who are successful are the ones who are authentic. The ones that have a great big ‘for sale’ sign on their foreheads will have a moment in the spotlight but it’s not a lasting reality.

In order to motivate people to follow your lead, you need to appeal to them at a core level. This can’t happen if you appear constantly inauthentic. Empathy and awareness of others, of their needs, is an important part of authenticity. A leader who is only concerned with the bottom line and not what is going on with his team members will not be authentic or effective, in the long run.

Intelligence

To make tough and important decisions, which a leader is bound to have to do, they have to be intelligent in order to be able to do this with confidence and authority. Intelligence doesn’t just mean knowing the details of a project inside and out, though.

There are other forms of intelligence: street smarts, if you will. Understanding how emotions between team members and throughout a hierarchy work and play a part in success, for example. It’s not all about knowing the ins and outs of a project or company. It’s about understanding how people work and how to work most effectively with them.

Positivity

To inspire people to do the work that they need to do, a leader must project positivity. There are few who would follow someone who was perpetually negative, always assuming the worst of a situation or a person and generally unable to see the brighter side. Real optimism is part of authenticity but it is so vital to a team’s well-being that it stands apart as an important aspect of leadership qualities.

Focus

A leader who cannot keep his or her eye on the prize, all the while ensuring the team members are still on board, won’t be effective either. Ultimately, most leaders have a goal or several goals and a vision of how to get where they are going.

It’s not a question of moving forward headlong without paying attention to what’s happening in the process. It’s the ability to do both: focus on the goal and keep all the tasks in line, at the same time.

Part of focus comes from accountability. A good leader is accountable to his or her team and makes them accountable for their areas of responsibility. It’s by trusting others to get their tasks done and working with them, rather than micromanaging every aspect, and also coming through on the tasks that he or she is responsible for, that a leader gains respect.

Over to you …

While some of these traits might seem difficult to pinpoint in any one individual, over time, a good leader will show these while an ineffective leader will falter. Seeking power for the sake of it is not what makes a good leader. Seeking a solid path to a goal and taking others with them for the ride: that’s the mark of a good leader.

Do you agree? What qualities do you think are essential to being a successful leader?

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Do You Want To Be an Exceptional Leader? | BridgeBetween.com

Do You Want To Be an Exceptional Leader?

Communication is the key.

There are leaders and then there are LEADERS. The latter are people who are able to inspire and motivate those around them with seemingly little effort. Those who follow their direction are energized, galvanized, uplifted and electrified.

These are some strong words to describe the mindset of some teams and the leaders who are truly successful at inspiring these sentiments can do one thing better than anything else: they can communicate well.

Exceptional leaders use all forms of communication

Humans communicate in a multitude of ways: voice is just one of them. A good leader will make use of all the ways of communicating at their disposal, including body language and listening skills.

A leader with arms folded across their chest all the time, eyes darting in every which direction like a nervous tic will not elicit a lot of confidence in those he or she is communicating with. Open stance body language and eye contact, with their full attention focused on whomever they are communicating with are important ways that a good leader will show, not just say, what they are trying to share.

A good leader will always be looking at the recipient of his or her words and actions to gauge reaction: are they responding? Are they nodding? Are they engaged?

If a recipient isn’t engaged, a good leader will adjust their stance, their body position, their facial expression, even their distance, to try and elicit a better, more positive reaction. Some of this is instinctive: we want to know that people are hearing us; but a lot of it is learned and acquired over time, by paying attention to cues from listeners.

Listening skills are just as important in communication as active speaking or body language. A leader who listens but does not actually hear what people are telling him or her isn’t really participating in a two-way discussion.

Without open discussion, a leader isn’t engaging with his or her team in a meaningful way but is instead issuing directions instead of creating a culture of communication.

Exceptional leaders are clear in their messaging

Whether talking about their vision for the company or the structure of management for a specific project, clear communication is vital. To that end, specific communication, using clear and unencumbered language in an even tone is the best way to ensure that everyone understands and is on the same page. Sarcasm, snark and even misplaced jokes can quite unintentionally create barriers to communication.

Clarity comes from confidence and knowledge. If a leader doesn’t really know what they are talking about or they are not confident in their knowledge, it shows. They will tend to say whatever comes into their mind instead of providing thoughtful comments or feedback.

It’s the mark of a good leader when even negative feedback is given in the spirit of improvement rather than as punishment.

Exceptional leaders are humble in their statements

A truly effective leader doesn’t expound on a topic as if they were the only one who understood things. They don’t pontificate. They share information from their point of view, in their own unique voice, with directness and politeness, and with evidence of appropriate reflection on what they are saying.

False or hyperbolic statements are easy to spot and a person who speaks that way regularly will eventually be dismissed by those around them.

Teams will follow a leader who understands them and whom they can understand, a leader who takes the time to listen and reflects back to them what he or she has heard. Being a good leader is very much about open communication with peers and subordinates alike, and less about speech making.

Being a good leader is very much about open communication with peers and subordinates alike, and less about speech making.

 

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What to Do (or Not Do) on a Team

What to Do (or Not Do) on a Team

That old chestnut that there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’ is tired but true and those team members who forget it are likely to struggle.

Working in a team isn’t necessarily easy. It takes effort and requires contributions from every member in order to be effective. There are, however, some specific things you can do as a member of a team to ensure that you are acting as effectively as possible and inspiring others to do the same.

Speak up… and listen

Communication is key. If you aren’t talking, sharing, being honest and open, you probably aren’t communicating effectively and if you don’t, the other members of your team won’t know what you’re thinking. A team can operate cohesively but that doesn’t mean that other members are mind readers!

In addition to speaking and sharing, a good team member will also listen. And not just passive listening, where they take in what is being said around them and don’t react to it in any way, but active listening, where they feedback what they think they have heard, to ensure that there are no misunderstandings. Further, other team members will feel that their contributions are valuable if you demonstrate an interest in what they are saying. If you are playing on your smartphone while others are speaking, you aren’t communicating effectively.

Don’t play the blame game

When something goes wrong during a project, proactive problem solving is the best result a team can strive for. It’s important not to waste a lot of time and energy blaming individuals for an error; it’s more valuable to own the problem as a team, assess the damage and figure out a way to move forward.

That said, a team’s spirit can be undermined if there is a need to hold someone or several persons accountable for their actions and that accountability is not exercised; but that’s different from laying blame.

Accountability to the team is important: if everyone is participating and ‘pulling their weight’, so to speak, there should be no issue that can’t be handled as a team. It’s when there are individuals who do not have the motivation, interest or ability to participate that issues of blame begin to crop up.

Be supportive and an active player

To follow on the notion of accountability, all team members need to be active participants, supportive of their teammates. Cooperation, reliability and flexibility are the order of the day and a desire to achieve working ability through consensus makes for the strongest teams.

If everyone pitches in and does their share, contributes with their strengths and supports others as they contribute with theirs, each team member will have done the best they can to achieve the goals of the team as a whole.

You can’t control how others behave, but you can control your own behavior and it behooves us all to put our best foot forward, in every circumstance.

Take credit as a team

Goals are achieved as a team and therefore accolades need to be given to the team as a whole. While there may be one person or a sub-group that stand out as being particularly important in the achievement, the reality is that most great achievement does not happen in a vacuum. There are a lot of people who contribute to it and those contributions should be acknowledged.

Some things not to do, as a team member?

  1. Not contributing and giving out signs of apathy—if you don’t want to be on the team, or you don’t subscribe to the goals as set out for the project, it will show. Your lack of contribution—sitting on the sidelines, as it were—will eventually be resented by the other members of the group, which in and of itself can damage the group’s dynamics.
  2. Not communicating, at best; being rude, at worst—the importance of communication cannot be overstated. If you are in over your head, say so. If you need something from someone else in order to do your part of a project, say so. If someone is trying to tell you that they disagree with something you have done or said, listen to them. Ignoring others or arguing with them disparagingly will be damaging to any project.
  3. Not trustworthy, poor timekeeper, won’t get it done—reliability is essential in being an effective team member. If everyone else is doing their share and working to the best of their abilities and you can’t be bothered to show up to most meetings and don’t complete the tasks that are on your to-do list, you’re letting the whole team down.
  4. Only interested in personal gain—doing things as a team means achieving (or failing) as a team. If you are engaging in activities for your own personal gain and with no regard for your teammates, you’re there for the wrong reasons.
  5. Blames others when falls short—a good team will take the hits together. Blaming other team members instead of constructively trying to alter the methods used going forward is a weak approach and one that ultimately will not benefit the team.
  6. Negative attitude / not buying into team goals—we all have disagreements or times when we don’t necessarily agree with everything that is being done on a project. But rather than sitting in a corner passive-aggressively ranting about it, or worse, complaining to anyone who will listen, do something about it. This all comes back to communication and contributing, for an effective team.

 

So much of what I’ve said here is common sense but it’s all worth repeating and reminding ourselves about what works and what doesn’t, in a team environment.

 

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