team building

Team Building: Do You Guide or Direct?

How Do You Lead?

Unless you live in a cave by yourself, you will eventually be part of a team. You may even be leading a team in accomplishing some task or providing some service. When you do, will you be a guide or a director? Much depends on the team purpose.

Over the past 40 (gad!) years, I’ve had the pleasure (and pain, at times) of leading many teams. Hopefully mostly to victory. One thing I’ve discovered in that time is that using the same leadership style in all situations is potentially fatal to success. You must adapt your style to fit the team purpose, members, and environment.

Guiding A Team

So you have been tasked with managing a diverse group of individuals toward a goal. If you are also responsible for fulfilling their career growth, you should probably adopt the role of a guide, rather than a director. As a guide, you should focus more on building team knowledge and capacity and less on task completion. Achieving the goal is still a priority, but you take more time to walk your team through the process of achievement, highlighting the best methods to get to the goal.

  • Avoid the “do it myself” trap – let others take some of the slack
  • Teach, rather than dictate
  • Shadow and support, rather than be the frontman
  • Provide positive feedback continually – even if the person struggled
  • Use one-on-one coaching opportunities

The key here is to grow your group’s knowledge and confidence so that they are better moving forward.

Directing A Team

When the deadline is tight, or the task is critical to overall success, it is time to become the director. When you direct a team, it is crucial to keep tabs on what everyone is doing and when they need to do it. Start off by examing the tasks involved in achieving success. Starting with yourself, you assign these tasks to the person best suited to accomplish them. Make sure you do NOT overload yourself! Understand that you will need at least 20% of your time just to manage everyone else’s progress.

  • Maintain regular progress meetings
  • Focus on task achievement recognition, without being negative
  • Use tracking tools to monitor overall progress toward the goal
  • Keep everyone informed of status
  • Now is the time to be blunt if required

The key here is to get the job done, demonstrating to the group that there are times when they need to knuckle down and get after it.

Stay Nimble

By adapting your leadership style to fit varying demands, you can hit targets while furthering your team’s effectiveness. Ask yourself as you approach each new team or task, what leadership style do I need to bring to this?

Photo by Kimson Doan on Unsplash

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