As a young Executive, fresh cut and inexperienced, life in the corridors of the corporate world could be a labyrinth of uncertainties and insecurities. More so if the leadership itself has nothing much to offer and you are saddled with a Boss who could be as co-operative as a mushroom!
The fact of an Executive’s life, way back from where I began, was really a tug-o-war of sorts mostly with oneself, because the Boss always got away with, “If you don’t know the difference between your elbow and your ar$e, you might as well ship out!” How much he knew about it himself, was a much-touted question jokingly tossed around by executives lighting up a smoke behind office water-coolers.
But that was life those days. No internet, no Google, no YouTube, no real information to bank on and most Bosses warming their seats over several cups of coffee while executives lived a hit and trial existence till they got it right somehow.
This was never too good for one’s morale, especially if you were in Business Development. Everyone in sales including me, always believed that no one else suffered as much as they did – sales targets, client idiosyncrasies and bosses who kicked your butt every month end if your achievements were going Southwards.
And then one wonderful summer day we inherited an amazing Team Lead. An unassumingly soft-spoken persona whose opening line at every morning sales briefing was, “Shoot me the problem and let’s kick up a solution.”
This was music to our ears. Just one simple sentence can completely change the entire gambit of efficiency of the whole Team. For all of us, he was literally an empowering gift from above. Commitment, loyalty, integrity, hard work and most of all, a never before experience of bonhomie, became the order of the day till we eventually beat rival Teams across other regions and got proclaimed as the best performing Team ever! In short, for us, our Team Lead was the embodiment of the best education in practical motion!!
A few years later when I became a Team Lead myself, I decided to fulfill every promise I had made to myself throughout those very challenging years as an Executive. A promise to never be a replica of those dimwit Leaders but instead, be one that could garner the same or even better levels of commitment and efficiency that I had learnt from that one particularly amazing ‘Boss’.
As the years rolled on and my experiences matured me, I envisaged and adopted 9 sledgehammering ways to craft an awe-inspiring Team, majorly influenced by that one ‘Super- duper’ Boss:
#1. Don’t just be a Leader. Be a powerful Transformational Catalyst.
The entire eco-system progressively keeps changing as life meanders on. And as that happens, mindsets, heartsets, bodysets, energysets, every part of one’s existence needs to be re-engineered constantly. And that amply goes for your Team members too. Hence, be a powerful Transformational Catalyst. Each of them will respect you for being one.
#2. Don’t compromise on Integrity.
Dishonesty is a disease. No matter how efficient an Executive is, you need to draw a line when it comes to questionable integrities. In my entire career span of 4 decades, I have fired only 5 people exclusively on the grounds of ambiguous honesty. If it’s ignored, you will soon be responsible for creating a Pandora’s Box filled with filthy politics. And besides, everyone loves a Boss who stands by tough principles.
#3. Don’t talk Failure.
I’ve always believed that there is nothing called failure. Instead, we only discover ways that don’t make things work, now and then. But there are also several discoveries we unearth on the way that do make things work. So why term the former as failures?
#4. Change is Constant and so is Resistance to it.
Ah YES, Change is a Constant. Everyone knows that. But you need to accept another important fact: So is Resistance to it. And that’s Human! Always address the latter as you define the former. It will pave the path for quicker progress.
#5. Don’t keep telling the Team what to do.
How often have you come across a Team Lead who is constantly telling you what he or she feels you should be ideally doing? And isn’t that irritating? After all, you aren’t a retard. You have an intellect of your own! So does each of your Team members. Quit the lecturing. They aren’t living your life. Give them space and let them surprise you.
#6. Be quick to Praise.
Don’t wait forever. Praise is like a hug of acknowledgement before the sweat on the forehead dries. Everybody loves to be told how important they are. Especially when they pull off the impossible. So do you, don’t you?
#7. Let them play Truant at times.
Oh I love this one! Hell, I used to enjoy bunking in school. It had a thrill of its own. But did it ever affect my academic records? NEVER! So why would that affect my professional one?! Executives will be Executives. Let them play truant now and then. All work and no play will just make Jack a dull boy!
#8. Always lend a shoulder to rest a Tired Head
Each of your Executives are not only your Team members but also a son, daughter, sister, brother, wife, husband, mother, father and so on. Each role they play could either be blissfully rewarding or earth-shakingly stressful depending on challenges they encounter as life unfolds. And then there is always the burning need to bring the food to the table under a secure roof, day in and day out. These are down to earth realities. Let them rest their heads on your broad shoulders now and then or whenever they need it. Teams often look up to their Leaders as Mentors. After all, the longest span of their day is spent with you. Make it rock for them!
#9. Gratitude always pays rich Dividends
This one’s an absolute ‘TO-DO’! You’re nothing without them. If you could become a professional superhero with none of them around you, they wouldn’t need to exist in the organization at all. When I was a Team Lead, I made it a habit of carrying my paycheck over to my Team and personally thanking each one of them for working so hard towards helping me earn it. After all, my progress was my family’s progress, and they were the main contributors towards it. Weren’t they?
These 9 Sledgehammering ‘Mantras’, as I often referred to them as, used to be the main subject of my discussions with other Team Leaders as I paved my way up closer to the summit of my career. Many adopted it with their own doses of innovative thinking. And that felt good. Because if it could work for me, I didn’t see why it couldn’t work for them too!
Now, let’s see if you can make it work for you too…