Let others take the lead
How to create a 'leader full' team
|3 minute read|
You don’t have to run every meeting, every staff get-together, every project or every change process. In fact, you will be seen as a far more effective leader if you don’t.
For some, the perceived loss of control, power or influence discourages them from relinquishing the leadership on these occasions.
They argue that the agenda risks being changed, slowed down, sped up or otherwise mismanaged with someone else in the driving seat.
The reality is that this could happen - the event or project could head off in a different direction from the one you planned.
But it may also result in an even better outcome. Who’s to say your way is the best way – or even the only way?
Allowing others to take the lead provides a powerful development opportunity for your staff.
They get to experience a little of life in your shoes and to understand some of your challenges and opportunities.
They are also able to bring their own ideas forward, to present the best of themselves, to audition for a future management role or even decide that management is not for them.
Give plenty of careful thought to who you ask to run the event or project.
In the first instance, avoid going for the obvious choice such as your deputy, the loudest extrovert or the longest serving person.
Choose someone who you think has the ability but who has not had the opportunity to shine until this point.
Give them a thorough briefing and as much support as possible to increase the chances that this first experience has a positive outcome.
Watch the reactions of other team members to someone else taking the lead. The level of support and encouragement they offer will tell you a lot about their commitment to the organisation, to the task and to each other.
If staff who are more senior than the person given the lead role undermine or try to dominate and take over, then they should be spoken to privately.
Having them understand that you noticed their less than supportive behaviour and then expressing your expectations for future meetings will again send a clear message about your desire to spread the leadership capacity more widely throughout the team.
Sharing the leadership of key events is known as creating a 'leader full' team in sporting circles.
Sports teams may rotate the captaincy role or simply say that every team member is captain today.
In organisations, this approach develops capacity, understanding of the business and successors for roles within teams.
It does not dilute the status of formal leadership positions, but it does improve the overall decision making ability and judgement within your team.
One small step in the next 24 hours
Meet with one of your talented, but lower level staff and ask them if they would be willing to take on a short term leadership role at a forthcoming meeting.
Emphasise this is not about extra money or higher duties, but simply a development opportunity you would like to offer them.
Offer whatever support you and they feel is needed in order to be successful. Agree on an event or project with sufficient lead time for them to be able to prepare thoroughly.