Your team is as strong as its weakest link. And more often than not, the weakest link is the leader. Not because of some previously-documented statistic that somehow made its way into my inbox, thereby providing me amazing insight into team leadership dynamics.
It’s because the leader put the team together in the first place. He knows the inner workings of the team and understands everybody’s various strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, as the leader, he should also know how to get the best out of everyone.
And that’s an issue right there.
Because the leader knows the team, he sometimes unwittingly undermines the members by pitting them against each other, putting a competitive spirit among them until it begins to make enemies of team members.
Did I lose you?
A competitive spirit is healthy and good for teams, if used rightly and applied correctly. The idea of challenging oneself for the good of the team and hope for a reward is fulfilling – especially on achieving victory. Bitter rivalry, however, benefits no one and might even tear the team apart from the inside.
It’s a precarious thing, leadership. You cannot afford to play favorites. You cannot be seen to prefer one person to another, even though your intentions are noble. The purpose might be to challenge the other person to be better; but at the end of the day, you might end up fracturing an already-fragile relationship.
To lead is to serve. It’s worrisome to find that as many people know that quote, they have no idea what it actually means. It has nothing to do with having you do the job of your subordinates for them. No. It does have a lot to do with taking the time to know and understand them, helping them become the best of who they are, for the good of the team and, ultimately, the business.
I hate lists, but for the sake of clarity I will mention a number of effective ways to kill your team:
1) Be Unapproachable
I’m sure almost everyone has childhood memories of running to turn off the television and opening books whenever they heard daddy driving back home. I once worked for a boss that put us in same situation. The entire office became a graveyard whenever he came in. Music went off whenever he was around. He always frowned as though his mouth didn’t know what a smile was. Nobody could talk to him. He alienated himself from the staff he was supposed to lead. And it was a matter of time before he was fired.
2) Be Partial
I already mentioned playing favorites. Let everybody know your preferred member of the team. Protect that individual from the worst of the job. Yell at everyone else but your favorite. Spare him/her the stress of overtime. He doesn’t need to do what is required of everyone else as long as he keeps satisfying you.
3) Insist On Having Your Way
This is quite good too. Everybody likes a stubborn leader, the kind willing to sacrifice a job or the team for the sake of his ego. After all, you’re the wisest person in the building so no other opinion counts. You don’t need advice, you don’t need support and no one had better question your judgment or decision. Keep thinking you can do everything by yourself and one day you might have to.
4) Embarrass Your Team Members
There’s nothing like a good yell to inspire people to work, right? There’s no more effective method to get people up and doing than by yelling at them and harassing them in front of their colleagues and subordinates, right? Yes, nothing affirms a leader more than loud vocal chords. After all, most employees are lazy, stupid people and they need all the help they can get, even vocal abuse. Right?
5) Don’t Waste An Opportunity To Be Mean
People do not appreciate niceness. It’s a wasted gesture in a work environment. The purpose for being in an office is to work. If people expect niceness they should go to church or somewhere more genial, right? An office is a workplace, and anything not related to work shouldn’t stay. Anyone who does not understand that can leave.
It’s pretty self explanatory. Follow all the items on that list plus a few more besides, and you’ll be out of a team or a job within no time. Or maybe, you can actually be the opposite of everything on that list and build a team that would be great.