I recently had a junior leader that I mentor in my office visibly distraught over the lack of perceived change and growth that had occurred within his 130-person team since he took responsibility of leading them some 20 weeks prior. He laid out his efforts up to that point of raising performance and expectation standards, holding members accountable, and doing what he could to explain the intent behind the team’s efforts and priorities. However, he felt that no one on the team was buying in to his efforts, committing, or even caring. He believed he was doing everything right – what he could and needed to do to improve the team through his efforts – but growth was not occurring.
As this leader spoke, I knew his intentions were in the right place and he cared deeply. Yet, as I continued to listen, I couldn’t help but think back to two foundational ideas that heavily influence my leadership style and intentions; there were certainly at play in his scenario:
“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” – John C. Maxwell
“People are interested in those who are interested in them.”
I believed this leader was facing a challenge to many of us at some stage. The challenge is that in an effort to build effective teams, leaders unintentionally overlook the personal, human-dimension of cohesion; we see team members for the value they bring to the team and fail to simply see them as human beings who have worth no matter what. We unfortunately have a limited view of what defines an effective team and the full range of team cohesion sources that feed into it. So, to build effective teams of committed people that last, leaders need to start with a people-first mentality and fully understand what team cohesion actually is.More