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How to get the most out of your team

February 23, 2011
how to lead a team

Image Courtesy of Ameena Kirmani

Team work has always been a difficult concept for employees to grasp and put into practice. Often everyone wants to be the “cook” and no one wants to be the “bottle washer”. However, there are a few strategies to use the next time you are appointed “cook”.

  • Give your team an opportunity to contribute. After interviewing John T. Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems Inc., Bronwyn Fryer, editor of the Harvard Business Review, found that Chambers was initially prone to disregarding his team’s suggestions. Only after the company adopted a “collaborative approach” did he realize his group’s true potential. Chambers remarked, “they would make as good or a better decision than I did”, indicating that as a leader you should listen to all ideas and hold off on any judgement until after the brainstorming process.
  • Challenge your team’s existing beliefs. Chambers calls it, “leading from the middle”. Be the middle man by pushing away any doubts and apprehension with words like “why not”. Have the team outline in writing why they believe an idea won’t work. It’s possible that they may actually find the solution. With the problem written down team members are able to pinpoint the problematic areas and address each suggestion and concern.
  • Ask open-ended questions. In the Harvard Business Review blog, Hard Times Demand Teamwork—Not an MVP, Tammy Erickson suggests not telling teams how to solve their challenges. As a leader you should allow the team to figure this out on their own by asking “what do you think should be done?”. Letting them come to their own conclusions provokes them to not only think 2 and 3 steps ahead but to be independent, especially when you’re not around.

Looking for more Tips and Tricks? Try these great books:

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