The success of any great leader is often measured based on the output of their group and their individual output. So why is it that some leaders are more capable of getting more from their teams than others? My experience has been that it comes down to alignment. The closer you are to being on the same page and working towards the same goals, the greater the likelihood that everyone, including yourself, will be producing more. Sure, there are things like fit, sharing values, and having people with the right set of competencies at the table, which are vetted for during the recruitment process. While I've been fortunate enough to recruit and vet my own team, I recognize that it is not the case for every leader. Regardless of whether you had the opportunity to pick your team or not, here are three things you can do to get more from your team.
1. Set goals or targets together.
The more collaborative the goal-setting process is, the greater the buy-in will be from the people carrying out the goals. One of the biggest misconceptions is that goals or targets are done once a year. That's not true! You can and should set goals more frequently when you have things that you want to accomplish. The most important person to have bought into the goal is not you, but rather the person carrying out the goal. I've made that mistake far too many times where I've wanted someone to achieve something they weren't bought into. I believed they would get it done anyway. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case.
2. Have a weekly team meeting.
My team gets together every week to discuss challenges, successes from the past week and opportunities for this current week. The weekly meeting helps make sure we are all on the same page about what is most important for the company and helps make sure we're all focused on the same targets. The group meeting should have a clear agenda, some recurring discussion topics (we always discuss finances, customers, people, strategy and execution) and have a check for action items at the end. My Chief Learning Officer is good at making sure that people are clear about the commitments they made during the meeting as we wrap up the meeting. The group meeting creates another form of accountability.
3. Have a weekly in-person check-in.
Once a week, before or after your leadership team meeting with each member of your team. This is an opportunity to review individual tasks, answer questions about tasks, and build a relationship like an effective teacher. Our most effective teachers are often the ones who can make the most genuine connections with our students. They push them a little, but they ultimately make them feel like they care about them. Your team will thrive off of that same feeling. Unfortunately, there is no way to fake this. You have to put the time in and go the extra mile.
4. Get a weekly update.
Two things I learned early on was that the type of people I enjoyed working with didn't like to be micromanaged and some people are uncomfortable speaking about challenges in front of a group or out loud. They'd rather write them down. At the end of every week, my teammates send me an update with the challenges they had or are facing, some of their successes and the name of an individual or a group of people with a short description of how they embodied one of our company’s brand promises or values. This gives me the weekend to process the challenges, praise the individual for the accomplishments of the week when they're noteworthy and send the individual or group of individuals some positive feedback to start the following week.
Done alone, each of things will help you get more from your team. Done together, the synergies can have a positive ripple effect through your school.