We know it all too well. You gave the new project to Joe to run because you needed his expertise to really knock this one out of the park!
You don’t just want Joe to “work” on the project, you want him to invest in the project and do what you’ve seen him do so well.
But, HOW do you actually get Joe to do that on this project?
This week, we’ve got Coach Bill Koch with us to share some of his best insights.
So, without further adieu…
“I often work with clients on the fast track. They have been ‘rock star’ individual contributors with deep expertise, domain knowledge, and amazing abilities to get things done. That track record for great performance gets rewarded with promotion into positions of management and leadership where one is expected to motivate and inspire a team. And this is right where some of the best and brightest people feel stuck – often for the first time on their fast-paced career trajectory.
In coaching conversations, I often receive questions and quotations such as:
- ‘I know how to perform, but not how to lead.’
- ‘I feel more comfortable doing than leading.’
- ‘Management would be fine if it weren’t for all the people problems.’
- ‘This is hard…I’m not sure I want this.’
Beyond such anecdotal indicators, I have analyzed data from a large body of client 360° evaluations with feedback data collected from Bosses, Peers, and Direct Reports. Among 50+ business competencies that are measured through this 360 instrument, these are among the most frequently rated as Opportunities for Development:
- Getting Work Done Through Others
- Motivating Others
- Managerial Courage
- Developing Direct Reports
- Directing Others
- Building Effective Teams
See the theme here? It’s about leading others. How to manage Direct Reports is one of the toughest challenges because it’s often new to us. Think of leadership skills as an underdeveloped muscle. We need training and exercise – maybe a personal trainer too.
Even more challenging – how do we get a Direct Report to “step it up” and go the extra mile? Should we use a carrot or a stick? Do we demand and command, or can we inspire and attract people to provide peak performance? The answer is “yes” – depending on the situation. It’s art and science. And new leaders need to practice becoming nimble and able to use multiple methods depending on the business need.
What does great leadership look like in your organization? When were you inspired to do your best work? Think of those experiences as you consider what you ask of your team. How can you inspire and motivate your Direct Reports to do the extraordinary?
There are times when leaders must make critical decisions in the face of looming deadlines, limited resources, and organizational demands. These events call for swift action. Think “military threat” kind of situations. The leader takes charge. But this behavior must be reserved for critical situations. “Command and Control” is not for daily use.
Great leadership is about developing people, building a team, and fostering a caring connection that transcends the workplace and the work at hand. It means making a personal investment in others. And it pays dividends in the form of commitment to the company from people who feel a part of the organization. It’s because the leader makes them feel welcome, valued, and appreciated.
What can you do to ‘step it up’ if you expect more from your Direct Reports?
- Frequent 1:1 developmental conversations
- Taking a personal interest in your Direct Reports
- Making sure the work you assign is meaningful
- Setting clear goals and objectives with your Direct Reports
- Welcoming feedback on your leadership performance
- Fostering a supportive team environment that’s friendly – maybe even fun!
- Recognizing great contributions in front of other members of the team
- Rewarding good work at the time it is performed
Leaders who invest more effort in these areas will find that their team is in step and capable of doing great work. Your Direct Reports want some autonomy to do things in their own style. The leader is responsible for setting the expectations and objectives so that individuals can flourish in a way that contributes to objectives you establish for the team.
Ask yourself if you’re creating an environment that makes people want to go the extra mile to perform at their best for your organization.