In the fast-paced world of business, leaders often take seemingly logical, necessary actions that result in negative long-term impacts. Leaders often overlook or become numb to the negative impacts certain actions or decisions have on devoted, high potential team members. Decisions in the interest of faster, easier, or more profitable have trickle-down effects on the team, such as misunderstandings, frustration, and ultimately attrition. Though it would be ideal for team members to leave organizations only for better opportunities, it’s more common that team members leave out of frustration with their current situation. It’s often a discouraging downward spiral or an endless revolving door of lost talent for the leader and organization.
The answer is not to compromise progress, but reconnect to your intentions as a leader and make small but impactful changes to how you lead that align with those intentions. Leaders have immense power to fuel productivity and new potential by using an approach that incorporates clarity, connection, and engagement. This change in approach and change in results comes from a key awakening: The aim of a successful & ethical leader is not only to make progress, but also to foster genuine connections and make the process enjoyable for team members. A successful & ethical leader cultivates collective progress while also enhancing the experience of each team member.
The aim of a successful & ethical leader is not only to make progress, but also to foster genuine connections and make the process enjoyable for team members. A successful & ethical leader cultivates collective progress while also enhancing the experience of each team member.
So, there needs to be a focus on the process, not just results. A better process for everyone means better team contributions toward the objectives. There also needs to be a focus on the individual experiences of each team member, as well as the connections. The contributions of the individual components make up the collective whole.
Part of leading rather than following is bringing awareness to actions and leadership habits that do not foster peace and engagement on the part of the whole and the part of individuals. There is always a way to drive progress while making the process clear and enjoyable for the team members involved. In this blog, I’ll detail three ways that you can begin to change how you lead your team in order to cultivate both peace and progress. These three changes to how you lead can make a huge positive impact on the progress and engagement of your team.
1. Communicate with Care & Clarity
A key responsibility of a leader is to make sure that team objectives are accomplished accurately and on time. Leaders often give fast, vague direction without taking the time to explain why or relate the task to the large mission of the team. If team members don’t understand why they are executing a certain task or project, they lack ownership and vision while working on the task. If they don’t understand exactly what is expected and when, they’ll be confused about how to prioritize and what the final product should look like. Over time, they lose connection to the long-term mission and point of the work.
You will gain respect and better results by taking the time to reconnect the team with the overall mission and Vision periodically. You will gain respect and better results by taking the time to explain exactly why you’re assigning a task, giving constructive feedback, or changing direction. If team members understand why, they’re more likely to produce quality results and feel connected to the larger mission of the team. This may take more time than quickly assigning tasks, but the long-term respect and engagement of team members pays off in the long-run progress and potential of the team, individually and collectively.
If team members understand why, they’re more likely to produce quality results and feel connected to the larger mission of the team.
- Plan a team meeting weekly to align around the team’s mission and vision
- Plan one-on-one meeting with team members each week to give clear direction and discuss their questions
2. Communicate with a Positive Tone
The way, or how, a leader gives feedback and direction has a huge impact on the short-term and long-term productivity, health, and culture of a team.From an early age, we are conditioned to use a negative tone or harsh words when someone doesn’t perform as expected, or when we want something done quickly. Leaders often give direction and feedback with a careless, harsh, or indifferent tone. However, does scolding a team member using a negative tone really cultivate the long-term impacts we want? Does it really strengthen the team?
A leader must not just be a director but also a teacher. To get the long-term results you truly desire — a genuinely respectful, engaged team — use a positive tone in all communications. Using a negative tone may temporarily prompt someone to do something faster, but they will lose respect quickly if they don’t feel that the leader is optimistic, appreciative, and respectful. If team members feel positive vibes from the leader via communication, their level of energy and productivity will follow.
If team members feel positive vibes from the leader via communication, their level of energy and productivity will follow.
- Always give a positive comment or acknowledgment before giving constructive feedback. “X was outstanding this week.” or “You are really making progress on Z.” Then provide constructive feedback.
- Replace the words “mistake”, “issue”, and “problem” with “opportunity”. Instead of pointing out an issue they had, say, “I feel you have an opportunity to improve on Y.”
3. Engage Individuals by Serving as a Mentor
Finally, approach and respond to team member ideas, questions, and requests with an open mind, as a mentor. Leaders often shoot down or completely don’t respond when team members reach out for help, guidance, or request an opportunity. Mentorship requires time. Without fostering and embracing individual growth, team engagement and progress is impossible. Even if the answer to a team member’s request is not right now, make sure to respond with care. This takes time, but it builds connection and respect.
One of the stories I tell in Awake Ethics is about attachment to our ways. A leader I had was very attached to his ways of doing things, so much so that when a better tool for executing a task became available, he ignored it or discouraged us from using it because he would have to learn something new. What he didn’t realize is that this resistance to change, learning, and empowering individuals actually held back the entire team. If team members request an opportunity to meet with you, to learn something new, to experiment, or to try something new, try to say Yes more than you say No. When team members feel acknowledged and encouraged to progress, they want you to succeed, too.
Without fostering and embracing individual growth, team engagement and progress is impossible.
- Respond thoughtfully to your team members within 24 hours, no matter the subject.
- Make the time to be a mentor in person, through one-on-one meetings
- Support opportunities for individual growth and awaken to how that fuels more sustainable collective progress
How can you Align your Actions with your Core Intentions?
Change is hard, whether it’s a change in our approach to leading our work, our team, or our lives. Making changes to our mindset, approach, and actions in order to fuel progress through clarity, connection, and engagement is a skill of an ethical leader. Zooming out to gauge collective team progress while zooming in on individual peace and progress is a skill of a successful leader. This is human-centered leadership.
The aim of an Awake Leader is not just to get the work done and go home. The intention of an Awake Leader is to accomplish objectives and make progress while also fueling the health and progress of each team members (yourself included). These intentions actually go hand in hand because, without a healthy, engaged team, what do you have? You might enjoy short-term wins, but you will soon realize you have an unproductive team that is on the road to burnout. You’ll be back to managing a revolving door. Replacing habitual, conditioned actions with actions that cultivate short and long-term progress for individuals and the team as a whole is essential and enjoyable. Learn to enjoy the process as much as you do the results, and help your team members to do the same. Wouldn’t each of our experiences and the world at large be a better place if each of us aligned our actions with our core intentions for inner and outer peace, connection, progress, and creativity?
Wouldn’t each of our experiences and the world at large be a better place if each of us aligned our actions with our core intentions for inner and outer peace, connection, progress, and creativity?
Remember, without first connecting to your intentions, and then evaluating if your actions are really fulfilling those intentions, alignment is not possible. Are you intentions to fuel progress while cultivating genuine connections and enjoying the process? It’s totally possible to align your actions with your core intentions. It takes patience and perseverance but any leader determined to take the lead can do it. Lead by example and others will follow.
If you’d like more ways to cultivate ethical, successful leadership practices, check out my Awake Ethics guidebook. In the guidebook, discover more practical yet soulful guidance, stories from the field, over 25 interactive exercises, and tips. Align your actions with your core intentions and strengthen your leadership.
Thanks so much for reading!