“It is a matter of perspective,” I recently shared with a client. “You can either choose to continue seeing and doing things your way or you can shift the status quo and ask your team their thoughts.”
Recently, I was loading items into the back of my SUV. Initially, the truck was parked across the street from the house. After the first trip, I thought, “Angela, work smarter, not harder.” Instead of closing the lift gate, I left it open as I moved the truck to the curb closest to the house. While the truck was in reverse, I was thrown off by the camera view of the sky instead of the normal street view.
This simple image that popped onto the screen reminded me of the opening quote and how frequently I am having the same conversation with various leaders. When we go at it alone, our views and outcomes can be so narrow even though we are surrounded by a world of possibilities that can be explored. We just have to be willing to look up and look around at those standing beside us.
As leaders in our homes, communities and organizations, we should be encouraging the ideas of others. Yet, so many of us fail to tap into our people resources until the final hour. Think about the last time you were stuck on a particular task. You rehearsed different options or scenarios in your head, ad nauseam, but could not figure it out. Finally, when you were beyond frazzled, you asked a member of your team or someone close by and within minutes a flurry of workable solutions materialized. Consider what that situation cost you.
If a team solely functions from the leader’s vantage point, then the team is working at a disadvantage and is limited — no matter how brilliant of a leader he or she is. I would even dare to say that, over time, a team that was once energized will more than likely become stagnant, complacent and lethargic when a leader does not consider their viewpoints.
So, then, the question remains: How can a leader tap into his or her team and remain productive?
Look for ways to foster intentional conversations, such as creating an environment for open discussions in meetings. And do not be afraid to mix it up a little. Set aside time to:
Talk about areas where team members are stuck,
Brainstorm new ideas,
Discuss ways to support each other, or
Have a quick mastermind like session to explore departmental goals.
Remember, you are the leader. You must participate to show the team that it is okay to be open to other viewpoints and to have transparent conversations. Transparency helps to build trust in a team. Also, remind them that no idea is a bad idea. It may not be the right fit at the moment, but it could spark some innovative conversations that lead to something else. Finally, make sure the team discusses ways to implement some of the ideas generated during the meeting. Seeing their ideas come to fruition will help bolster energy and the desire to contribute more in the future.
As leaders, we should constantly be looking for ways to move beyond our comfort zone. Staying focused on seeing things one way could be costing more than you recognize: time, money, trust and your team. If your perspective is maintaining status quo, take steps toward creating an environment where your team can participate and share the load. Do not wait until you or your team is frustrated; start maximizing everyone’s potential today. After all, you are surrounded by a world of possibilities just waiting to be explored.
Angela Garmon, with ARG Coaching & Consulting Group, works with leaders who are overwhelmed and frustrated with changes in their organizations. These leaders want to bring their teams together and produce results. For more information, visit www.argccgroup.com.