Creating a Beautiful Team – The New Leadership Challenge.

How to effect Change and Responsibility in your TEAM, by Matthew Hill

Working with some high-potential Managers recently, we noticed that life was becoming harder and not easier after an intensive training session! 

As our superstars moved from a directive and high powered management style to one of collaboration, empathy and healthy dialogue, they encountered not instant progress but FRUSTRATION! 

Now tasks where taking Longer, there was more listening to be done and their teams were throwing up lots of new problems. 

In fact the more that they encouraged debate and feedback the more our managers were starting to drown as the teams seemed to delegate tasks UPWARDS, putting monkeys on the manager’s backs. 

The teams seemed to be a little suspicious of this new style and resistant to changing to the new paradigm of responsibility and autonomy. But why? 

The aim of New Leadership is to raise up your team members from being servants to being PARTNERS. 

Standing in the way of this are years of them behaving differently and the contrary habits that have served them well for all of those years. 

This is experienced by managers as resistance to their new leadership style moving from Telling to Coaching. The new effort is met with fear and suspicion. 

What is to be done? 

In any group there will exist a Social Leader who may be ready to become the Agent of CHANGE. Instead of you the manager working long hours to convince the individual of a team to change, you can recruit an Opinion Leader to coach the team from the inside. 

Find someone who you think influences the team naturally and is accepted by them. Test to see if they understand your values and ask them what they WANT for themselves? Negotiate an emotional contract where they get what they want – esteem, sponsorship, introductions, training, resources or affirmation, in return from helping you with coaching the team to take on more responsibility. Shape your key messages to fit with the Agent of Change’s style and wait until they appear to really own, understand and believe in your mission. If they rephrase the message so that it still represents your goal but sounds more natural to them, then go with their new formulation. Next, watch the team’s reaction as your Agent talks about the message. You are looking for an emotional shift in the team that represents comprehension and a measure of acquiescence. 

You will have achieved a Cultural Translation of your Message from you, the manager to them, the team. Well done! 

The strategy is now to move the team up a level in their tribal behavior. 

They may start as “I hate my life”. You are then aiming to move at least some of them up to the  “I am great at X” stage. This is where the majority of good people in companies sit today. It is good but it can be better! 

Up from “I” is “We”. The next level up is “We are Great!” This represents the language of a collaborating, motivated and performing team. 

There is another level after this!

The super-performers are up in the stratosphere and say, “Life is GREAT!” They have transcended ego, self and even the limits of their tribe and see the bigger picture and the bigger game. 

I am guessing, dear reader, that you may now be feeling tired and frustrated! 

Your experience is not of the beautiful top level but of the frustration beneath those heady heights. For you, the experience is one of resistance to CHANGE. 

The big lie we all tell our teams when selling change is that change is great. We will be moving from good to great easily. This is not true. 

When starting any change, the reality is that it goes from OK to Worse. This dip is frustrating and depressing. 

When your team moan, complain and resist they are actually being LOGICAL!

They are acknowledging the challenge of change. What will you do with their honest feedback?

It is time to acknowledge their case, respect them as people and gently remind them of the purpose of the change and the Great that exists just over the river of frustration. 

Communicate with the individuals in a way that respects their personality. Some people are driven by a desire for safely, certainty, minimal risk and maximum security. Use the language of security to get through to them. 

Others are thrill-seeking adventurers who want some spice in their lives. Give them some excitement, thrills, risk and variety through your communication and your description of the process and the end-goal. 

Your team may crave meaning, significance and importance. For them you must articulate the mission in language that appeals to their need for development and status. 

Finally, you are talking to people who belong to many groups and tribes. Appeal to their tribal nature by expressing the benefits of the project and illustrate the perks of group membership and belong that will accompany their cooperation.

Your mission is to influence and persuade the team to chose to participate because they will benefit from joining with the mission. 

Being brutally frank about the challenges of today and overly enthusiastic about the rewards of tomorrow you are providing them with a job worth undertaking, whilst showing them the honesty and respect that they desire and deserve. 

Dial down your personal power and let go. 

In this way you will hand ownership across to the team and let them be responsible for shaping the project and its outcomes.

And so we end with an irony – You will win back control of your time and the mission by LETTING GO. 

Matthew's new book has just been published – "Learn How to LEAD; Believe, Behave & Become"

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About matthew

Matthew Hill is a leadership author, coach and trainer with a passion for helping newly promoted managers become inner and outer leaders.
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