If a tree stops growing, it starts dying!
A team is a living organism. Just like a tree, the team and the individual team members need to grow in order to stay healthy and thrive.
Too often, leadership is so focused on meeting the immediate deadlines or quotas of the business, personal growth becomes an afterthought. The only growth considered is financial or some other business metric. Leaders beware of this trap!
Daniel Pink points out in his book Drive (June Book Of The Month) that one of the ways a person is motivated is through the opportunity to obtain mastery. In other words, they are growing.
A team that is constantly focused on getting better together and individually becomes a Low Maintenance Team (LMT). People who are growing are more engaged, fulfilled and loyal to their organization.
3 Ways To Grow Into A LMT
- Grow Yourself
- Grow Leaders
- Grow Beyond Work
I mentioned in my first LMT blog that becoming a LMT requires the leader to change first. One way a leader trains her team to grow is by growing herself. I read in Dan Miller’s 48 Days To The Work You Love that a leader who doesn’t read has as good an opportunity to grow as an illiterate. It is a strong but true statement.
Yes. A leader’s time is precious. But, I’ve been where you are and know that we all make time for what we consider a priority. So let’s all drop the excuses. If we make growing as a leader a priority, we will have the time to do it.
Here are a few ways to grow as a leader:
- Find a mentor who will challenge your thoughts.
- Subscribe to 3 blogs or newsletters that will keep you thinking of ways to grow.
- Identify a book a quarter on leadership that you will read.
- Attend one leadership training summit a year even if you have to pay for it yourself.
First, I have to focus on my growth and then I can expect growth from my team. As my team grew into a LMT, I found I had more time to invest in my personal growth. Just like Daniel Pink points out, when I was growing as a leader, I was more satisfied with my job. I became a better leader as a result.
For most of my last 5 years with my company, I had to invest my own time and money in my growth when the company cut back on leadership training. If you are waiting for someone else to do it for you, STOP. Take the initiative and lead yourself to become a better leader.
As a sales leader, I always knew that if I created a team of great sales people sales would add up. But, if I created a team of leaders, sales would multiply. Imagine if you had a team of leaders…you just envisioned what it is like to lead a Low Maintenance Team!
Some ideas I used to grow leaders on my LMT:
- Incentivized people to read leadership books as part of their development.
- Created a book club for the team that met monthly via conference call to discuss key chapters in leadership books. They are led by a peer and discuss the topic in light of their everyday job.
- Develop a mentoring system that allows tenured people to train and lead junior employees.
- Send deserving and hungry people to leadership seminars and have them teach what they learned to the team.
A team full of growing leaders will outperform a team of people grinding away at day to day tasks. A team full of leaders is a Low Maintenance Team. It is my responsibility as their leader to help them become leaders.
Grow Beyond Work
Some of you may notice that I did not focus the growth in areas that were solely related to job skills. While this training is important, over time it loses it’s ability to positively effect the engagement and the morale of a team.
If training solely relates to job skills, the leader may send a message that she only cares about getting more out of each employee in order to hit organizational growth numbers. “Its not about improving the people, it’s about improving the numbers.”
Many organizations can make their people feel they are just cogs or tools the company uses to meet goals. That is why the growth I focus on is transferable to home and other areas of life as well.
By focusing on leadership, communication skills, Emotional Intelligence, and personality styles not only did I impact work performance, but I also had impact on an individuals ability to lead their family, communicate with loved ones, and have impact in charities and ministries they cared about.
A team that is growing and becoming better inside and outside of work will experience success year after year. A team that only adds another skill to their work tool box may improve one year, but what about the next?
The Bottom Line:
A Low Maintenance Team is led by a leader who sets the example by growing herself first. That example gives the leader a platform to set an expectation of growth for the team.
I found that a person who is growing consistently and seeing fruit both at work and at home as a result of our LMT’s focus on growth is highly motivated and a pleasure to work with. This of course made my job better.
A Low Maintenance Team is a better place to work for both the leader and the led. A tree that is thriving and growing appears to be reaching into heaven itself. I truly believe that with a LMT, the sky is the limit.
The series I have written on Building A Low Maintenance Team has received a lot of attention. This will be a continuing theme throughout my writing. Plus it is something I train leaders and organizations to develop.
Please use the contact information on this web page to contact me if you want to discuss these topics in more depth. (Email Me Here)
What is the first thing you need to do to jump start your growth process?