One of my favorite perks of working at Y Scouts is learning how conscious leaders lead. I say “conscious” because often there’s a point in someone’s career when they realize what it really means to be a leader; when they start seeing themselves as a “leader of people” for the first time. The leadership awakening can even happen years after someone first received the promotion that denoted leadership status on paper.
I’m not sure who originated the following quote, but I found this elongated version on the Trillium Family Services Facebook page through a Google search,
“Change moves at the speed of trust, and trust moves at the speed of relationships.”
The New Year often means change. As a leader, make sure you’re doing the change pre-work by building relationships with the members of your team.
1- Start with “Hello”
This sounds self-evident, but I’ve worked for CEOs at companies with less than 25 staff members, who walked around the open office and only said hello to members of the leadership team or didn’t say anything at all.
If you view speaking to your employees as something that they should earn, you’re wasting a valuable opportunity to build trust and activate net promoters within your company.
2- Get to know your staff on a deeper level
Conversations with your team shouldn’t start and end with “how was your weekend?” After starting with hello, begin investing time and curiosity to develop real connections.
At Y Scouts, we utilize Chad Littlefield’s We! Connect Cards to expand our understanding of our teammates. The 60 cards have three degrees of levity:
- “fun and light” – What was happening the last time you laughed so hard you cried?
- “a bit deeper” – What is one crucial ingredient for true happiness?
- “self-reflection” – What is something you would like to do more of?
3- Be serious about feedback
If you repeatedly hear crickets when you ask your team for feedback on an idea or product, there’s a good chance the team doesn’t think you actually want to hear anything honest from them. Break through the silence by turning feedback into a game and building a “Red Team.”
While attending GreenBiz 17, a sustainability conference that convenes annually in Phoenix, I participated in a workshop on “generating and acting on breakthrough ideas” led by Jonah Sachs of Free Range Studio, a purpose-driven innovation and storytelling consultancy.
The Red Team: Give a group permission to speak frankly and tear ideas apart by forbidding them from saying anything nice. Instead, people on this ‘red team’ must voice their gut reactions to ideas. This can help save time by eliminating barriers to honest feedback. – Free Range
Jonah introduced the concept of the “Red Team” to the group. Red Teams are used frequently in the military and intelligence communities to challenge ideas in order to make them stronger. Set clear permission and intention around utilizing the Red Team as a critical asset to make the organization better by identifying issues.
This New Year, take your team to the next level through giving more “hellos,” asking deeper questions, and being intentional about feedback. These trust builders will translate into more engaged teams who drive greater impact.
Katelyn Harris Lange loves hearing the stories of people and organizations championing work that matters. As a Leadership Search Specialist at Y Scouts, Katelyn supports searches in the Finance, Accounting, Legal, Operations, Non-profit and Social Impact practices.