There is no responsibility more important in an organization than leading its people. People leaders set the tone, and their actions directly influence the culture of the organization and commitment level of their team. So why is it, that when most leaders list their daily, weekly, and monthly to dos most of the things listed have little or nothing to do with intentionally leading their people?
Usually the list consists of writing reports, preparing for meetings and working on various projects. Leaders block out time in their calendars to strategize and work on various tasks and assignments. Unfortunately, reports, strategies, processes and policies don’t mean anything without a stellar team to execute on them.
Why isn’t there time blocked out to think about your team at the beginning of the week? Time when you as a leader sit down and strategically think about who to assign what work to, who will need additional coaching or facetime this week, and who needs additional feedback for a project well done or for improvement in performance.
Leading people isn’t merely a part of your job as a people leader. Leading people IS YOUR JOB. And it has the greatest impact on your success, the success of your team and the greatest impact to your organization. The biggest predictor of a productive and effective team is the leader’s individual relationship with each person on that team.
The most common comment we hear from Senior Leaders attending our Intentional People Leadership training program is usually something like ‘Crap, we have put way too much of the day to day and project work on our leaders’ plates. They don’t have time to lead. No wonder their teams are struggling.’ A number of organizations we’ve worked with have made major organizational structure changes following this realization to ensure their leaders have the support and time they need to lead their teams intentionally and effectively.
All too often people leadership comes last on our never ending list of things to do. In order to turn that around and make a big impact on the culture and commitment level of our team, we need to get intentional about the way we lead. Book time in your calendar every day to ensure you are leading your people. What performance problem solving conversations are you avoiding having? Who on your team hasn’t received a meaningful thank you from you recently? What are the challenges and strengths of the people on your team? Is there an opportunity to shift work to ensure you are playing to everyone’s strengths?
If you find it hard to fit in additional chats and general check-in’s with your team, book time in your calendar to have informal check points every week or month depending on what makes sense for your team. Find out how their week is going, talk about what they are working on and find out what they need from you. Investing your time into your team members individually is a worthy investment.
Organizations aren’t made vibrant by their policies, reports, strategies and projects. They become vibrant as a result of their people. So as a person who leads people, make sure you invest your time accordingly.
Jane Helbrecht is a Partner at Acuity HR Solutions. She leads the training and development function with a focus on Acuity’s Intentional People Leadership training program. For more information on Jane or Acuity HR Solutions visit https://acuityhr.ca/