Managing a team isn’t always easy, but if there’s one management principle I always come back to, it’s that I set the standard for my team. As managers, our habits inform our teams’ habits; when we take a dedicated and disciplined approach, the people we lead will often follow suit.
Here are three habits to work on so you can inspire your team.
There’s a difference between hearing and listening. We might hear what our co-workers are saying, but if we’re not careful, we can get caught up in our own thoughts when they’re talking. When we listen, we’re also paying attention to the emotion and feelings behind their words.
Listening is especially important when you’re managing people because they might not feel like it’s their place to freely express their emotions. But as leaders, it’s vital for us to be in tune with how our team members feel. Also, when we actively listen to our team, we catch more of their brilliant ideas.
Focus on Strengths
As a manager, our immediate impulse might be to critique our team and focus on where they miss the mark. While constructive feedback is important, it’s also important to focus on what your team is doing right. When you have a good understanding of your team's strengths, you can come up with more creative solutions to the challenges you face. Your team will also appreciate your respect for their abilities, and be inspired to do their best work.
And remember to focus on your own strengths, too. We all have unique capabilities, and when we take note of what we do well, it naturally empowers us to be the best possible managers.
Help People Get Where They're Going
Similar to paying attention to your team’s strengths, take an active interest in what your employees want out of life. Where do they see themselves in five or ten years? How can you help them get there?
By taking an active interest in the goals and aspirations of the people we work with, we’re building trust and showing them that we’re truly invested in their success.
Sometimes, your employees might need help specifying their goals and seeing the path to getting there, and that's okay, too. Just by taking an interest in helping them, you're clarifying their path forward.
Try this: the next time you notice a team member stray from your values or vision, ask yourself if your actions contradict your expectations. Don’t shy away from examining your habits and acknowledging where you have room to grow.
You got this!
-Ampersand COO & Co-Founder Kathrin Applebaum