I enjoy watching house makeovers on TV. They always start with a major structural disaster and analyze which remodeling strategies will turn the house into a beautiful home. To make that transformation there is usually a great deal of dreaming, planning, hard work and finally elation. It’s a process that not only takes time but also depends on the expertise and knowledge of the designers and builders.
In a similar way, our teams and organizations sometimes need a makeover. The culprit of the dysfunctional team or institution is often the leadership at all levels. Team members and leaders don’t always recognize the signs of a collapsing leadership strategy. When we are in the thick of our organization’s daily routines and projects we forget to pick up our heads to notice what is going on around us. In fact, it can take a new person joining the team or an outsider looking in, to identify the crumbling of a once high performing team.
Do any of these comments sound familiar?
“I have no idea whose running this project?”
“I’m not sure what I am responsible for.”
“It’s not my fault. My co-worker messed up.”
“Nobody here seems to care about deadlines.”
“The customers are so upset about the new launch.”
Sometimes all it takes to recognize a downward spiraling leadership strategy is to listen and observe the language and behaviors all around us. But what if we are not great at recognizing the signs?
Five Clues That Your Team Needs A Leadership Rehab:
1. THERE IS NO CLEAR VISION
Let’s begin by stating that a team or organization that doesn’t know where it is headed is sure to face many obstacles and missteps. If a team doesn’t know its purpose and drive, how will it know when they have arrived? Who is responsible for creating the vision? Leadership. But not just senior leaders; leaders from all levels. Bringing an entire firm together, using smaller focus groups can help build a strong vision.
2. TEAM MEMBERS ARE UNCERTAIN OF THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES
When there is confusion with task clarity, it is usually a sign that leadership has fallen apart. An important responsibility for a leader is making sure all team members understand their role on any project.
- Write out each person’s responsibilities clearly
- Ask team members for any concerns or questions about their assigned jobs
- Explain the “why” of the project and how it fits into the bigger organization vision and direction
- Remain agile if responsibilities need to be shifted
3. EVERYBODY IS LEADING IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION
Often overlooked and yet very common, team members can sometimes run off on a tangent, swerving away from the original assignment. Then a deadline approaches and the project is nowhere but stuck with pieces that support the interests of each leader instead of the initial focus. If people seem to be leading parallel to one another rather than in sync, there is a definite need for a leadership rehab.
4. MORE BLAMING AND LESS ACCOUNTABILITY
The other side of the blame coin is accountability. When there is a tremendous amount of finger pointing there is an inadequate amount of accountability. If this is happening step back and ask:
- Why aren’t we acting as a team with a clear direction?
- How am I adding to this lack of leadership?
- Are there things I can do to bring people together to identify the missteps?
- Who needs to be included in solving our challenges?
5. GREATER TURNOVER
Are individuals leaving the organization at a greater rate? Are experienced people that have invested years at the firm running out the door? If the answer is yes then there might be a leadership issue. Remember that people don’t leave a company; they leave their manager or team. Greater turnover can be a red flag that it is time for a leadership rehab.
What additional clues have you seen that point to a team needing a leadership rehab?