With the right style of leadership, your team can flourish. This not only improves the quality of input they offer the team, it will also stand them in good stead as they shape their future career paths. Here are the key principles I live by to get the very best out of my team.
1. Establishing the right type of leadership
As the coach of my team I embrace servant leadership. I want to be visible, setting an example and living the team’s strategic plan. By being what you believe, you are not enforcing, but encouraging a certain type of culture. This should be in parallel to acting as the Chief Problem Officer for your team, ensuring you are there to facilitate and coach through issues and problems as they occur.
Even though I sometimes might want to dive in there and fix something, as the coach you should stay where you can see the whole field. I want my team to be enabled and I want them to know I’m there to coach them, but I want them to make the play and solve the challenge themselves to win. This way you build self-confidence and maturity in your team.
When my team needs support, they’re open to ask for advice or direction, but I also expect other members of the team to dive in, too.
From that you’ll find that it’s not just a case of the leader looking after the team, but the team looking after the team… and indeed, the team looking after the leader. This makes people feel that they want to stay in the team and that they’re contributing to the team.
To enable any of this, it’s important to set an example and walk the talk. If you show your team it’s ok to do something in a certain way, they’ll soon feel comfortable enough to follow suit. For me, I lead by example in maintaining my work-life balance, taking more risks at work and being ready to support and coach where needed.
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2. Getting the balance right
Everyone is talking about work-life balance, right? They say, “Oh, yes, we want to maintain that work-life balance”, or on the flipside, “I’m not able to obtain work-life balance”. Want to get it right?
For me it comes down to a combination of planning and mindset.
Don’t think that work-life balance will organically happen to you, you need to plan it. Plan your working time, plan time to learn (your hour of power – I’ll get to this in a bit) and plan time outside of work for your personal responsibilities. For me, that means picking up kids or earmarking time to research a new tech topic, for instance.
As a leader that has to translate into showing visibly that you are planning, visibly that you are making priorities, and that you are living your work-life balance.
You could argue that if you actually prioritize your time and time box your time, you will be more effective within that time.
And I would never rate a person’s performance as good if they stay 17 hours in the office. That’s not so much performance as bad time management.
From a mindset perspective, you should never feel guilty when you’re leaving work on time to be with your kids. Nor should you feel guilty when you do stay behind to crack that solution process issue. A lot of people put themselves in this vicious guilt circle. I consciously tell myself not to feel guilty. Guilt is lost productivity – wasted minutes of life.
Priorities can be for different parts of your day as well. In the middle of the day on Monday your priority might be work, but at 8pm, it’s making sure you get your kids to bed.
3. Make time for learning
Learning is important, especially in the technology sector where the rate of change is just enormous. Enable your team to take the “hour of power” – every week taking one hour out of your working schedule to learn about something new. It’s important that you plan this time, since it easily falls off the schedule if you don’t.
Take the hour of power yourself?
The hour of power allows you to tackle topics that might not appear in your everyday. For example, AI and machine learning are topics I was unfamiliar with, so I used my hour of power to research deeper into this domain. Plan it into your schedule, mark it as “out of office” and really ensure you take the time to learn.
Encourage this in your teams, ensure they also schedule an hour of power. And not at the weekend or after work, actually in their working day.
At adidas, we always talk about the 3Cs together. Confidence, Collaboration and Creativity are key pillars to the style of leadership I describe. Confidence to not feel guilty, Collaboration in problem solving and Creativity in learning are how I exemplify the power of the 3Cs.
I encourage you to take a step towards being the best coach you can be and keep your team in a winning position.