Jump Start Your Self-Directed Team
Leading a self-directed team can feel like a misnomer. If the team was self-directed, why are you spending so much time getting them to do things and do them well? The problem may lie in the quality of the team. However, let’s make sure your leadership style is dialed in to be as effective as possible to get the self-directed team running well. This week’s series looks specifically at this to give you some solid methods and ideas to put into practice today.
We’re diving directly into our first free practice for the week. This creates a solid foundation in a mind-body connection to ground your leadership efforts with a self-managed team. There are some particular things to be mindful of while working through this particular leadership challenge. In general, the better you’re grounded in being a servant leader, the faster and deeper this practice will take hold for you.
To get started, we explore 3 key ideas to help orient you and get the most out of the free practice:
- Know the model to emulate
- Know the subtleties of the model
- Return to the basics for mastery
Putting this combination together with this foundation practice should help you model the way for your self-managed team. Dive in now and get started by clicking here for your FREE practice. Build from here with the rest of this post.
Now with a tailwind from your foundation practice, now you can move on to converting or at least improving your self-managed team. As you do, let’s start out right. Here are 3 key concepts I talk about in the video:
- Get the fear out
- What does “self-managed” mean?
- Management v. Micro-management
Although in concept, practicing servant leadership builds an environment for self-managed teams, when you get clear on some fundamentals, it is more likely to work well. Looking a little more closely for these concepts corrects a lot of blocks. This is especially true if you find yourself wondering if your team can pull it off. It is also very true if you find your team underperforming as you switch to this type of work team.
Often the idea of a self-managed team seems utopian to leaders. This is largely due to their perspective of how to lead people and the type of culture they are all working in. Running straight away toward servant leadership and self-managed teams could be counter-productive because of unresolved basics. Let’s ground you in the basic concepts within servant leadership that can make all the difference for leading a self-managed team.
Lead Like A Cowboy
No, I don’t mean “wild, wild, west”. I’m talking about taking a leadership queue from an actual cattle drive. Cowboys drive hundreds or thousands of cattle over big distances without losses and with only a handful of cowboys. This is a pretty impressive feat when you start to make the connection to leading large groups of people. No, people are not cattle and in fact they are far more capable, variable and mobile. This only strengthens the case of cowboy leadership
The perspective of cowboys in relation to the herd is one of managing by exception. I have heard this term thrown around without much concrete understanding of the mechanics. To keep this short and simple, consider only watching when there are significant deviations from the plan and execution. This is what cowboys do. They are looking for cattle that stray (get ahead, fall behind, or wander off).
Frequently managers are have too narrow of a focus on the work, output and methods of their teams. That is more like trying to drive cattle in a single file line – a veritable nightmare, which is why cowboys don’t do it that way. So what are the appropriate boundaries so things are successful? Let’s continue…
What Are The Real Boundaries?
This might be the most difficult part of the transition effort is determining what constitutes an exception needing your attention and what will work out on it’s own. There is no great trick worth talking about here. Taking time to reflect on your risk tolerance, the team’s ability to execute without direction and the tolerance of your local culture all play the prominent factors in determining this.
This also is usually more fluid in definition than we’d like. As you get accustomed to it, it does become second nature to know when and how to adjust the boundaries to dial in a self-managed team. The distraction here, at least early on, is typically having boundaries that are too narrow or an unskilled team. Either of these conditions and you probably feel too busy to contemplate having LESS control of your team. The counter-intuitive part is letting go gradually and testing to see if the team is capable and coincidentally your intervention decreases. Run some experiments to see how to do it
Leaders Create Environments
So now you’re willing to experiment a little. Well, looking at this as a small scale leadership experiment helps. Concurrent with this mindset is viewing your job as setting an environment for high performance to happen. This is a major difference with seeing your role as directly affecting a team to be high performing. It is hard to loosen control if you believe your role and actions lead directly to high performance.
If you can look at the environment of your team and the situational awareness you instill, this will put the team in a self-managed culture to achieve or not. Once you have experimented in this part of your role, with some patience, you should be able to find your new style and then can really focus on being a servant leader because the basics are now part of your leadership range.
Lost In Transition?
Do you feel turnaround a bit at this point? This could be your leadership edge. There is a dual problem experienced by most people at their developmental edge: time and direction. You have in the past and will again advance your developmental edge with enough time invested figuring out what it means, what to do and how to shift your understanding to handle more. However, engaging a professional coach can shorten and deepen this effort for your benefit. Try it out for 30 days, risk-free with me by clicking here.
Ok, you may be experiencing the strong corrective influence of a leader who seems to never accept anything as good enough. At times this can be hard to take and be quite daunting. However, in the video I give you some ideas and insights so you can better work with and for this type of leader.
The 3 big ideas are:
- A deep desire for a better world
- Push for clarity in “the standard”
I have been there with intense and demanding leaders. Some insights can certainly help. It seems surprising how this type of style and situation looks so different depending on if you’re the leader or the one being led. They want you to be self-managed but haven’t seen enough proof their standards have been met, therefore proving worthiness of decreased intervention. For the followers, checking in more seems prudent because previous attempts didn’t measure up, so more feedback is needed to get better.
At some point this becomes a burnout for both sides. Hopefully, we can avoid this altogether.
Now we come to our second free practice. With the rest in place or at least contemplated, you’re in good shape to put this practice into use. It is designed to be compact, nothing extra type of effort. It is also designed to scaffold you and your team toward a self-directed or self-managed team with a servant leadership context on your part. No more reading. Download your FREE practice by clicking here and get started today.
All my best,
Russell Lindquist, Founder & Principal
Russell is a Certified Integral Professional Coach™. I help leaders and entrepreneurs break through plateaus, earn more respect and move on to their next level of success. 80% of my clients take on more responsibility with less stress, more success, and half of them get a promotion or earn more money within 6 months of completing their program. www.tessagen.com