One of the most common errors leaders make is their desire to be efficient when communicating with their teams. When we attempt to be efficient, we tend to focus more on what needs to be done. When your staff run into setbacks, they have no context as to why they are doing what they are doing, so they have no energy to stick with it. They simply wait for more direction.
When a leader focuses on being effective instead, they take the time up front Connecting the Dots, providing context which builds resiliency, drives discretionary energy and the work gets done. Following are four key steps to be effective and provide the context for the work that needs to be accomplished.
Clear Expectations: In an environment of uncertainty, it is vitally important to be clear on expectations, and to provide a shorter time frame from what you may have done a few months ago. The shorter time frame builds more confidence that the team can achieve the goal. They might not be sure about what is happening next month, but they can feel in control of this week.
Connect to the Strategic Goals: Creating a belief in the team that their effort makes a difference is a hallmark of an effective leader. Today, connecting their short-term goal to the longer-term strategy for the organization is key to building this belief. This creates context for their short-term goal, which allows them to envision different paths to get to the ultimate desired outcome.
Create a Shared Picture of Success: Taking the time to help the team visualize what success looks like gives them something to move towards. When the team is focused on the goal, it allows them to self-correct and quickly move beyond any setbacks.
Communicate in a Way that Creates Confidence: Use their past success to remind them of the challenges that they have overcome, and your confidence in them that they will succeed in this as well.
Connecting the Dots is your investment of time up front that pays off in the dividends of your team having more energy, resilience and independence toward delivering the desired result on time. And that connection makes you a more effective leader.