Chapter 6: Know Your Team
Effective leaders have a vision, understand it, live it, and are able to communicate that vision. People follow these leaders because their vision inspires them to reach new heights. They help people excel. They do this in four ways:
- They understand themselves and have clear purpose and values; on this foundation, they set their vision and goals;
- They take responsibility and initiative;
- They understand their undertaking and excel at recognizing and synchronizing talents to tasks. And above all;
- They engage in servant-leadership in that they understand the value, potential and aspirations of people who are entrusted to their leadership. Great leaders are coaches and mentors of future great leaders.
The key to leadership lies within you. But you have to face and master yourself first, before you can lead and attract others to follow you.
Leaders are unifiers. They create a gravitational field through their vision and example. They embody their values and vision in everything they do.
They choose collaborators wisely and pick a variety of people with different skills and personalities. But they ensure that everyone on the team understands and agrees with the overall vision.
Great leaders aren’t afraid to take risks, but always choose the right team member for the right task.
Well-led teams have a culture of trust. Their leader sees himself as the steward of the team member’s careers, objectively understanding and seeking their true good. Such teams focus and build on everyone’s strengths.
Bringing out the best of every member on your team is the true mark of a servant leader. They create a culture of work in their organizations that affirms the value of employees and celebrates their ingenuity. They put the individual Human person at the center of all that they do.
This not only makes for a wonderful work environment, it is also the fastest and surest way to create thriving and prosperous companies and societies.
Great leaders enable others to excel at and through work. As John Paul famously said: “When we work, we should not simply make more, but become more.”
Back to the TopExercises
What specific actions can I personally take to embody these values and principles? What policies and practices can I implement to embed these values in my organization? What vision/culture/atmosphere do I want to promote/create in my company? What policies and actions support that? Post the list of your principles on your office door.
Make a list of the key positions in your company or group (departments, tasks, etc.) and describe in clear terms what each job needs in terms of human talent and ability. You might distinguish between essentials and “nice to haves.” (i.e. marketing – need a listener, tech-user, hipster, visually oriented, verbally savvy person… or for my development lead: visionary, someone taken seriously by the developers, time and deadline driven, innovative, stress-able person.)
Think of your key employees (direct reports) and make a list of their key strengths and talents. Also note for each what your vision would be for them. Who are they at their best? What could they achieve if they stretched?
See how well the two lists overlap. Is there right person in the right job? If they are, what training or mentoring could bring them to the next level? If they aren’t, what job would be better for them? Can you help them get there? Plan to have a discussion with each employee and share with them your findings. (Be “loving” – keep an open mind – it could be that there is information out there that might change your mind. Keep an open mind and listen – you’re a coach and mentor, not a critic.
Back to the TopPrayer
“But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.”
Dear Lord, I can certainly relate to James, John, and the rest of the disciples. I want to be a person of respect and honor. I like it when people look up to me. So, like your first followers, I am challenged by your vision of servant leadership. This sort of thing just doesn’t come naturally to me.
Help me, Lord, to be a servant leader in the contexts of my life where I have been given authority. May I serve my family, my colleagues and subordinates, my students and those who look to me for guidance. Help me to seek the best for those in my charge, to care for them as people and to honor them. Teach me, dear Lord, to do what doesn’t come easily to me. Help me to be like you! Amen. (Prayer written by Mark D. Roberts)
Back to the TopRecommended reading
Books that helped me realize the importance of my team and how to choose them:
Discerning the Will of God by Fr. Timothy M. Gallagher
Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life by Michael Novak
God at Work: Living Every Day with Purpose by Ken Costa
Church, State, and Society: An Introduction to Catholic Social Doctrine by J. Brian Benestad