Managing the great divideOct 26, 2022
Leaders need to pay close attention to managing the great divide between what needs to be done and what is being done. A divide that can become enormous at this time of year.
Effective leadership is the recognition of gaps in knowledge and expectations and being prepared to step in to reconcile this great divide. I have found myself in separate client and team meetings where the conversations are so disparate and on completely different playing fields that I have felt compelled to close the gap.
This divide is both necessary and a trap.
It’s easy to identify the divide by the questions people ask and it warrants special attention where accountability resides and when copious amounts of work are being produced.
Put simply, some team members don’t need to be overwhelmed with information that doesn’t serve their needs or that might complicate their creative or technical thinking. I advocate for a balanced sharing of knowledge across the project to maintain a wider perspective, especially at critical times of the year when deadlines are approaching.
Team members need to understand how their work contributes to the greater whole. They need to know when to dive into the detail or zoom out and get the big picture sorted first.
Why are we doing what we’re doing?
How is it being used or received?
What information is absolutely necessary to make the key decisions?
And what is nice to have?
I encourage you to curate your team briefings accordingly. Be transparent but add necessary filters to suspend the emotions attached to some of the issues, to remove details where they aren’t helpful and anticipate concerns.
Managing expectations . . . This is the role of a true leader.
It can’t be siloed or short-changed, and it sits equally under the advocacy and accountability banners. Significant energy should be devoted to managing expectations across the team and with stakeholders.
It’s like the concept of advocating up, down and sideways throughout your project. It is critical to manage expectations for those above, below, and around you in order to gain momentum and build trust. I believe it’s also linked to providing greater autonomy within teams.
When individuals are accountable, can delegate work and openly communicate with a diverse cross-section of the team, you’re able to lighten your load as a leader.
You can enable team members to feel empowered to delegate work and create an agile system of reliability, knowledge, and skills. This doesn’t mean dumping a heavy workload onto someone else simply to remove liabilities. I would argue that when you delegate you still have the ultimate ownership of it, albeit with shared responsibility.
By finding someone who is better placed to undertake the work, to contribute their expertise or fresh eyes – you’re making a strong judgment about its importance and putting the needs of the project above your own.
Communicate regularly with your team and do so with intent, so that they truly hear you.
Diversifying accountability across the team may reduce project risk and enhance opportunities for success. Too often, accountability rests on the shoulders of only a few individuals or just one person. In most cases, this isn’t sustainable or conducive to a successful project.
If you would like help streamlining decision-making or managing expectations on your project and within your teams book a call with me to see how I can make your leadership role more effortless and enjoyable.
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