Does it frustrate you that that no matter what you do, some people on your team just don’t seem to be engaged? They won’t make decisions, offer suggestions or take initiative on any projects. Do you wonder if there is anything you can do as a leader to get them to contribute more without being told what to do?
You may be asking yourself, ‘what’s wrong with them?’
Maybe…stay with me on this point…it’s not (just) them?
I’ve done research on top complaints about managers and some common themes come up:
Top complaints about ‘bad bosses’, in no particular order include:
3. Resistant to change
5. Not empowering employees
Last week I wrote about using the concept of Living Above the Line to gain back some of your time. This week I want to focus on Living Above the Line as a leadership method for helping you help your team be even more engaged and empowered.
The above graphic is used extensively by the Envision Team (http://www.envisiongroup.ca/) when training and coaching our clients around the world. It’s probably our most popular leadership tool according to current and past program participants and coaching clients.
Why? It’s so simple and provides an easy, visual tool to guide leaders through the process of helping others “Live Above the Line”. The secret? Start asking employees questions to get them thinking ‘above the line’ about a positive future state and how they feel you can best get there.
Think of it this way - are you more likely to be engaged on a project if you come up with an idea or if your boss says “here’s a problem we have and here’s how I want you to fix it’? Living Above the Line encourages us as leaders to empower our teams with the confidence and courage to become part of the solution instead of just being told what to do.
In his e-book Great Leaders Ask Questions, Bob Tiede Founder & CEO of LeadingWithQuestions.com writes:
“Leadership is not as much about knowing the right answers, as it is about knowing the right questions.
Questions are the golden keys that unlock hearts and minds.”
Instead of telling your team what to do, could you ask more questions? Questions like:
“What does your experience suggest is the best way to do this?” Or
“Interesting, what do you think we should do”?
Even IF you have the answer, or an opinion, you don’t always have to interrupt your other responsibilities to offer it up. If someone on your team is encouraged to share their ideas and act on them, they tend be more engaged on the issue or project. And, if over time, that employee is encouraged to act and is acknowledged for not only sharing their ideas but also on a job well done, it’s also more likely they will do it more often. They’ll be even more engaged in their work and feel more empowered to share ideas and take initiative. They may even start to ‘put their hand up’, so to speak, in meetings and suggest a course of action or share an idea they have. So yah, be even more engaged.
Living Above the Line helps leaders enhance the culture of empowering and engaging employees. I will share with you a recent email I received from a current coaching client to drive this point home:
“Living Above the Line positively encourages team members to come with thought out solutions to the problem(s) raised, rather than just throwing their hands up in the air and complaining about an issue. In turn, it encourages innovation for them, collaboration, creativity, independent thinking… etc.
For me, it means I get more time to do the things that need my direct attention, as opposed to just being everyone’s problem solver.”
What strategies have you found to be successful in your leadership role? I’d love to hear your comments, experience and questions. Also, If you want to learn more about Living Above the Line and how it can help drive an even more positive culture in your organization, visit my website at http://sdbdsolutions.ca/ or drop me a message on LinkedIn.