Smart Teams Need Smart Leaders: Here’s How to Be One!

Smart Teams depend on Smart Tactics to get them learning and growing. Here’s our list of the fastest ways to get your team moving today.


The Smart Teams are the Teams Pulling Forward


Are your people calling “Bullshit!” on anything you’ve been saying lately?

If they’re not, then you’ve got a problem.

Cowed, timid and disengaged team-members go along with anything, even if it’s the wrong plan of action.

If you’re the best team leader that you can be, you’re not as smart as the people working for you – and making your team into the smartest possible team is just about the smartest thing you can do.

The best leaders can’t possibly think through all the alternatives that a good team will come up with. A really rich exchange of ideas is one that opens up all kinds of options and alternatives. And yes, that’s where all the solutions to all kinds of problems are going to come from. Understanding your goals, communicating them and striving for them – with your team – takes some works. See some good examples of goals and objectives here.

Here’s what you should do to make your team into a smart team and one that can confront any situation constructively with an eye on the future.

1) Include the Bottom of the Totem Pole – in Top Level Decisions

The people actually doing the work have a lot more insight than you might think. Make sure they know you’re backing them up and that you understand the strengths each team member brings to the table.

2) Add Transparency to the Team Mix

A leader’s role is to ensure that every part of the team understands and works well with the rest of the team. Make talking through disagreements the standard operating procedure

3) Reward Success Meaningfully

We often say, in this blog, that this is a lot easier said than done. Pizza Parties don’t cut it, but a half-day off costs nothing and gets remembered long afterward. As an incentive, free time and time off or flexible scheduling can mean a world of difference.

4) Encourage Wrong Options

Very few brain stormers ever get as far as understanding that good cognition depends on carefully considering incorrect and obviously failed options. That could mean encouraging your team to come up with the most obvious solutions. But it also means, coming up with those that don’t work, couldn’t work, or will never work in a million years. Put them on paper, or on the white board or back into the proposal and talk about them. You’ll be surprised at how well this opens up new solutions, and encourages teams to work through creative solutions with less fear.

5) Eliminate Fear

Celebrate the ridiculous, the obscure and the not quite totally baked does not mean celebrating failure. Whatever your team is doing, even if their best efforts don’t quite work, if they put it all out there, then the leaders job is to make sure that every one learns from the mistakes and improves.

Teams need to explore or they are just making the same mistakes over and over again. We’ve seen this far more times than times than most business leaders would even think is possible. And yes, bigger organizations can stay in the “mistakes only holding pattern” for years and years and year. It’s expensive and useless.

Look at it this way: Getting somewhere means taking some risks. Business failure needs to be regularly planned for and accounted for and mitigated. Your competition is doubtless even more mired in “bullshit” than you are, so don’t let them be the ones to call you on it. Leadership means taking it, sometimes taking it on the chin, and learning from the experience. Going back to the same old practices is really what needs to be eliminated.




Photo this page: Sauve qui peut ! © Wikimedia Commons by Runner Lambda on Flickr

Karin Jakovljevic

About the author

Karin Jakovljevic

Karin Jakovljevic is the head of marketing at Ximble, a powerful, cloud-based workforce management system, simplifying employee scheduling and time tracking for retailers, restaurants and small businesses.

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