Once upon a time, proving yourself as a leader meant having the right answers and ensuring that your staff did as well. As a leader, your main objective was to keep reproducing the business's past successes. So long as you knew what needed to be done, taught others how to do it, and evaluated their performance, this should go smoothly.
But in the constantly changing norm of today’s business world, what worked in the past no longer guarantees success in the future. Today’s leaders simply don’t (and can’t) have all the answers.
You’ve heard of MBWA (Managing By Walking Around). MBWA has been such a powerful leadership principle for many of today’s high achieving leaders because it allows them to see the human side of people as they do their work. You see their work environment, how their work contributes to achieving the strategic goals of the business, and understand the challenges they face every day. The effectiveness of this simple, yet deliberate effort, brings leaders and their teams closer together and improves engagement.
Leaders who are master practitioners of MBWA do these 3 things when they are with their teams to bring them closer together and drive up engagement:
1. Clarify roles and responsibilities: Clear Roles and expectations help provide a framework of stability for all involved. This can involve clarification at both the individual role and the team level perspective. MBWA leaders make sure to regularly ensure their team answers these 3 questions when rounding with their team: Why does the team exist? What purpose are they trying to accomplish? What role do you play?
2. Teaming: In today’s complex business environment, leaders win when they create wholes that are greater than the sum of their parts. Teaming is essential to achieving greater levels of collaboration, communication, and innovation. Teaming is an action word, which implies it is not something that is just done once. Rather, teaming is an ongoing process where leaders reinforce the roles of team members and align their actions to maintain trust, constancy of purpose, and a winning culture.
3. Make them feel comfortable: When people feel comfortable being themselves and expressing their thoughts, it leads to the free exchange of ideas - which is the breeding ground of innovation. If you create conditions where your people feel punished for speaking out, you lose time, ideas, and insights in the process. To make the team feel comfortable MBWA leader needs to ask, “what do you think?” often. And remember, whether or not you agree with the feedback is less important than reinforcing the importance of the free exchange of ideas.
As a team leader and a team member, remember you make a difference! You play a key role in the ongoing effort to make your team more engaged and excited to be a part of the success of the organization. Put these tips into action to build an even more engaged team!