A few weeks ago, my sister and I had a long conversation. She owns a business in China with a few hundred people on her team. She was rewarded greatly when her business took off last year, but she shared that her team is now experiencing difficulties in growing their business. My sister is smart, hardworking, and inspiring. She has tried new sales strategies, trained her team with more information, and encouraged them to provide even better customer service, however, her team still complains about how hard it is to make sales grow. Together, we identified ways for her to lead her team more effectively.
Prepare and prime your team to win.
It is essential to set your team up to succeed, not only through skills training, but also through preparation for change.
What does this mean? When a new coaching client starts working with me, I give them an assignment to share with their family and friends that he or she will likely be changing in many ways. Our family and friends want us to be successful, but most people don’t handle change well. By helping my clients prepare their support network, they are more accepted and supported during the process.
In my sister’s case, most team members are young moms who want to start their own business. They start by spending more time on training, bringing products home to try, and they don’t necessarily make money right away. Often their family becomes concerned quickly. If they are not primed to give their family notice that changes are expected, the new members end up quitting before they can succeed.
Never assume people know what you know.
Provide guidance for self-regulation.
An effective leader guides their team to become more self-aware, thereby becoming more responsible of who they are while creating results. When my sister’s team leaders complain they’ve hit a bottleneck, what they are really saying is: I don’t have control. If my team members could just change, it would be better.
I suggested that she ask simple discovery questions. For example, tell me more about a difficult conversation you had with a team member; how did that feel? Or, tell me about a great conversation you had with a team member; why did it feel good? What worked?
To really listen, don’t try to fix their perspective. Rather, ask what they need. What do you want to see, hear and feel to move forward? Self-regulation is empowering.
Trust is a gift.
My sister told me that the main roadblock her team runs into is that people don’t trust easily. She said, “I understand, because why would they? I don’t trust people that I don’t know.”
I reflected: how do you see your relationship to trust getting in the way of your team creating trust out there? She paused, then said, “Wow, I’m enabling that culture in my team!”
Trust is a gift, and we have unlimited trust to give. It does not mean that she will just trust blindly. It simply means that she will try to trust a few times every day, and be aware of what shifts each time. She took it on and invited her whole team to play as well.
Who the leader is creates who the team will be.
An effective leader leads a winning team by helping others shift from resistance to relationship; blame to responsibility; doubt to trust. It’s a skill that can be learned and polished through relentless practice.