Five Leadership Approaches To Wake-Up A Team

How does your team look these days? Are team members dragging their feet, awaiting a vacation or a day off? Has the routine and workload gotten the better of everyone? Maybe the direction the team is following doesn’t seem to make a lot a sense or support the overall organizational goals. Whatever is happening, it may be time for a shake-up or wake-up. But who will lead the charge to disrupt or challenge the team?

Working with teams for many years, I often hear someone complain about how dysfunctional their team is. Finger pointing is often the way a team communicates when deadlines are missed and team members are frustrated. It’s always someone else’s fault for customer concerns. It’s so easy to blame the person sitting in the cubicle next to us.

Do you want to know a secret about feeling more fulfilled in your job and leadership? Swap out finger pointing and blame for leading the charge to change. If you really want to be a disruptor, then disrupt by leading.

Five leadership approaches to wake-up a team:


Before taking any action or deciding on any change, lead by figuring out what is actually happening and what needs to be revamped. If we are not clear on what the issues are, we will never be clear on a solution or direction. Here are some ways to research your information:


Whether on site or through a videoconference, pull the entire team together to share the task force’s findings. Ask for additional feedback with specifics. There may be facts the task force missed. Try to get a consensus of what is happening and how the team can regroup to recharge. Getting buy-in is so important because then all team members will feel part of the solution.


The most important strategy for a leader working towards a change is to keep an open mindset and remind others to hear the different perspectives offered. If team members shut down the ideas of others before giving them a chance to share, commitment will diminish.


Visuals can help people see things more clearly.

  • When leaders physically put ideas and goals on a whiteboard or flip chart or document, they will help clarify the team’s choices.
  • Color graphics can help too because people are drawn to different colors and textures.
  • Then place the team’s new direction and goals in high visibility places all around the offices or facilities. When we have our goals and commitments front and center we are reminded of our new joint path.


The tricky part for leaders to ensure a successful change is to follow-up with the team in a month or whatever timeframe appropriate. Check in to see how the changes are working. Ask team members if they are feeling more energized or fulfilled with the new goals. Sometimes a shake-up needs some tweaks as things may change while integrating the new goals and vision.

What approaches have worked for you in leading a team wake-up?

 (Credit image: Pixabay) 

 If you need help with spearheading a team shake-up please let me know.

6 thoughts on “Five Leadership Approaches To Wake-Up A Team

  1. LOVE this post, Terri! You really hit it on the head on why leaders so often point the finger and blame others…and most importantly, what leaders can do differently. I had a similar situation recently and one of the best things I did was something you recommended: Create a small task force to brainstorm why the team is dragging. That small task force of 6 people felt involved, it generated a sense of ownership for them, and it was able to relay the situation 6 times faster than a single leader. The multiple personalities also made it easier to reach out to the larger group of 70.

  2. When leaders blame others instead of identifying what part of the problem they may have contributed, it only leads to a dysfunctional team. Usually a team facing a challenge or misstep, involves more than one of its members. Strong team players hold themselves accountable and are highly solution-oriented. In one team I worked with, we spent a great deal of time talking about the factors leading up to a failure. What team members grew to recognize was that they all had a part in the mistake.

    Thanks LaRae for sharing your helpful story with us!

  3. I’d often go into organizations to conduct their needs assessment, interview the team members and present my findings and recommendations to the leadership team. I’ll say 97% of the time they were surprised by the results. One of my top recommendations was always “talk to your people and brainstorm on solutions together.” Whether leaders do this through an external consultant or internal task force it can be just what dysfunctional teams need to turn things around. (assuming that action is the follow on!)

    Thanks, Terri. Will share!

  4. I love your idea of “talk to your people and brainstorm on solutions together”! Team members can learn so much from just listening to the struggles of others and then helping them resolve their issues. An important part of being a leader on a team is supporting one another and holding ourselves accountable rather than blaming each other.

    Thanks so much Alli!

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