You probably recognize this workplace scenario. The team you’re on is moving along at a clip, accomplishing great outcomes and meeting challenging deadlines. Each team member seems to be working hard and knows what is expected of them. Then one day you notice that projects, files, phone calls or emails are piling up. Co-workers are less inclined to help each other out and start to vent about their workload. Gossip about how certain individuals on the team are not pulling their fair share begins to circulate. The once smoothly run team is derailing with no one in charge to realign it. What’s happening to your previously high performing team?
A leadership crisis is setting in.
At first you may want to deny what is changing right before your eyes but then you plant your feet on the ground and stand up to see what is happening. The leadership at every level has collapsed. No one is holding themselves accountable for the team’s implosion.
Five game plans to crush a leadership crisis:
1. TAKE THE LEAD FIRST
Take the initial step to lead the game plan by making everyone aware of what is the present condition of the team. Sometimes colleagues are so busy just surviving in the workplace that they are oblivious to changes or workload imbalance. Call for a team huddle and share your findings and concerns.
2. ASK FOR INPUT AND PERSPECTIVES
Then stay open to what team members see as their understanding of what has changed. Maybe you are not aware of a process issue or skill gap. There could be personality conflicts. There may even be territorial confusion with another department. Listen to learn.
3. CLARIFY EACH TEAM MEMBER’S ROLE
Often when I work with teams and there is a leadership challenge, it stems from a lack of clear expectations of one another’s responsibilities.
- Put in writing the overall vision or purpose of a project
- Describe clearly what each team member is responsible for
- Make deadlines realistic and manageable
- Factor in delays and possible set backs
4. BUILD IN A BUDDY SYSTEM
To crush a leadership crisis it can be so helpful to create accountability buddies. These connections not only hold each team member accountable for accomplishing their piece of the solution but also help to build strong relationships. When co-workers work more closely together, they learn more about one another’s strengths and develop a greater trust level. That deeper connection will help a team build stronger leaders who are there for each other. Also a buddy system screams: “Every team player can be a leader and can lead from wherever they are.”
5. DON’T FORGET THE CHECK-UP
Finally, in rebuilding a leadership strategy tweaking and adjusting may be necessary. If job responsibilities aren’t aligning with a person’s particular strengths or interests, they can possibly be altered. If the team runs into roadblocks because information has changed then deadlines may need to be moved. By taking the time to check-up on the new direction, there likely will be a stronger finish.
How have you crushed a leadership crisis?