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Motivating and Empowering Your Teams

As a business owner or team leader, you know that building a strong team is essential for success. But with so much advice out there on leadership styles and tactics, it can be challenging to know where to start. At Cicada Agility we believe that there are a few fundamentals that all leaders need to focus on when it comes to building a strong team.

  1. Clarity of mission or purpose

  2. Ensuring everyone knows their role and their responsibility

  3. Creating an environment where everyone can play to their strengths (and are comfortable leveraging everyone's strengths on the team)

  4. Empowering the people below

  5. Creating an environment of continuous growth

Clarity of mission or purpose

Something powerful and fundamental to human beings is a desire to contribute to something of meaning. Believing in the cause gives our days and effort real purpose. As a leader, it is your responsibility to communicate this purpose and connect every individual's job to that purpose. Without this understanding, there is a risk of losing team members and a decline in morale, as people begin to question the impact of their work on the overall mission.

Everyone knows their role and responsibility

The difference between a high-performing team and one plagued by conflict cannot be overstated. In fact, nine times out of ten, team conflict arises due to confusion about who should be doing what. When there is confusion, let the hunger games begin! Politics, gossip, land grabbing, you name it will start to seep their way in. It is crucial for each person on the team to understand not only what they are responsible for, but what each other is responsible for. When there are pieces of work that are highly collaborative, make sure that people understand their responsibilities within that partnership. This can save a lot of time later if conflict takes roots. This can also help make it clear when someone is under performing or isn't delivering.

Playing to Strengths (and covering each other's gaps)

A strong team knows what each player is best at, and they openly discuss and "pass the ball" to each other around these pieces. If you have someone on the team who isn't very conceptual, they have a hard time ideating and coming up with ideas on the fly, but they are excellent at drilling into the detail, asking the hard questions, and gut checking thinking, then we need to celebrate what they are good at and help them partner with someone who is opposite of them. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses, the beauty of playing on a team is we bring multiple strengths to the table and collectively we cover each others gaps (if you don't have this aspect on your team, you aren't hiring enough diversity of thinking and style). Creating a culture where we can openly discuss areas of strength and areas where "we better not for everyone's sake" is a gift. It accelerates the pace of execution, and has the happy benefit of making everyone feel valued because they know that they have something unique to contribute. This can really be some glue in helping a team gel together.

Empowering the people "below"

Hierarchical language perpetuates power bias, but for the sake of clarity, I will use it. Leaders resist the urge to hoard power. Power-hoarding leaders breed resentment and rebellion among their teams. Your primary responsibility as a leader is to delegate decision-making to those closest to the people closest to the problem, on the ground, in the trenches…. You get it. We've all had a career trajectory and the only way that people learn is to be exposed and to let them take their shots. Let them. Guide them, teach them, but do not make all the decisions yourself. You will build strong players on the team when you let thinking and problem solving happen in your team. Empowering is not only a crucial tool of learning, but it is also a core tenet of employee satisfaction. If you want to keep your people happy, let them make decisions, bring them to the table, listen to their ideas, let them take their shots. They will love you for it, and this engenders a lot of loyalty

Creating an environment of continuous growth

Culture is a key aspect of how we work. Whether people are open to feedback, agile in their thinking, able to pivot when we learn something new, is largely a function of what kind of culture we are creating. Having an environment that lives, eats, breaths and rewards continuous feedback (when done with kindness and reflection) becomes a game changer. Getting people to be in growth mindset, seeing set backs as opportunities and challenges as problems to be solved, creates an inspiring and motivating environment. We all need feedback in order to grow, but that is one of the areas that leaders often dread the most because they don't have a culture that is built on it. When you do feedback as an activity, it feels very evaluative, judgemental and can be counterproductive from true learning and growth. If we build an expectation that we all need to learn and grow through the journey we are on, we can create a lot of psychological freedom that will make our products better, our people smarter, and we can collectively continue to improve together.

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