When the best leaders step in

As leaders who believe in empowering their people, have you ever felt apprehension about stepping in to make a decision to help the team move forward?

I have.  This can be a pivotal moment and making the right decision can impact trust on your team.

Be prepared for criticism when we step in and provide direction.

When should leaders step in?

The best leaders draw on their experience, foresight, and knowledge of their key team members to know when it is in the organization’s best interest and the team’s to intervene.

Certainly we are not stepping in arbitrarily, however there are times when the team cannot move forward without us. 

Or perhaps unknowingly, the team may place the organization at risk because moving ahead is time sensitive and without our help they might spend too much time in one area.  That is our job to lead them through these times so the next time they have seen how to properly handle it. 

When their authority is needed

Teams may not always have the authority to open the locked door.  Leaders hold many of the keys or can make a special key to get the team into the room they can’t get into themselves. 

Leader response:  Give them the key or use it yourself; just get the door open!

When power is needed

At times teams find themselves with an adversary or a competitor who will not let them pass.  Even the combined strength of a high performing team cannot overcome every circumstance.   The power of the leader becomes critical to overcoming this obstacle.

Leader response:  Apply negotiation to navigate the space, take any hits on behalf of the team, and deal out your own blows if it is in the best interest of the organization.  Use power in a way to provide protection for other teams needing to pass after you.  The best leaders don’t leave the adversary to wreak havoc on the next team. 

When encouragement is needed

People live in groups, they form their own mini-cultures.  Teams have a way they do things; their rules of the road.  When circumstances turn against them for a long period of time through attrition, poor product launch, below average service ratings they may question their worth.   Despite all the great work the team accomplishes all teams pass into valleys.

Leader response:  Provide perspective and walk with them through the dark time.  As leader, we understand that circumstances are mostly transitory.  Be steady.  Lead forward.  Ask for them to come with you with the belief that the future will be found in looking forward.  Let them hear your voice of encouragement.

When caring is needed

Life brings not only joy, but also tragedy.  We all experience the loss of a loved one.  Many of us have experienced workplace change, serious family issues, or financial problems.  Our people have these types of events coming in and out of their lives continually.  

Leader response: The leader’s responsibility is to care. 

Leaders who care more about the work than the people doing it, won’t have many followers. 

When new direction is needed

Giving our teams the liberty to choose their own path can deliver remarkable results.  At other times it can cause confusion and the feeling of abandonment. 

Leader response:   When teams think they know where they are going, but never arrive the leader’s responsibility is to provide new direction and it is their responsibility to follow.  The shepherd leader is never far from the team.  They know the terrain and their people well.  When they recognize team pace and quality fall off, the exemplary leader provides the next best step.  Most of the time that is all the team requires to get themselves back on track.

Shepherding:  The art of becoming the leader others want to follow