Leaders are only as good as the people surrounding them. My experience aligns with the research that leaders must fill an essential role in establishing the expectation for efficient and effective manufacturing operations. The leader must set the initial direction and then inspire and champion the executive team members with the proper responsibility and authority to do the work well.
It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do: we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do. - Steve Jobs
As Jobs recommends, successful leaders shift from thinking that no one else can do the work and instead begin to develop the employees in their care to improve continually. A common theme for organizations that struggle is the burden of micro-managers. As a result, the company slowly erodes to lower performance levels as people wait for direction. The issue results in further negative consequences when it becomes better for employees to avoid decisions than to make a wrong one occasionally. As things bog down, the leader intensifies their micro-management, leading to an increasingly negative downward spiral.
Leaders should approach their work to bring out the best in the organization by creating a work environment that inspires employees. Even more significant potential exists when the executive management team works as a cohesive unit. I see this as essential to develop themselves into a coherent unit before moving to the next phase of a company transformation. The value in doing so can lead to substantial improvement in team performance.
Several options exist for personality-type instruments that can also be useful in better understanding and leveraging team dynamics. Taking this work to the team level is a holistic approach that leads to better outcomes as the organization works to transform its operation. Understanding one another better, leveraging existing strengths, adding additional talent to fill in gaps, and committing to the direction of the owner or leader allows the potential of a high-performing team to achieve more significant accomplishments.
A review of the CliftonStrengths for each team member is one opportunity to increase the impact of the leadership team. Key benefits include increased productivity and sales, higher engagement, and lower attrition. When team members have reviewed their CliftonStrengths 34 report, everyone understands what they do best as individuals and how it fits the other leadership team members. The members can further know the blind spots of their peers to improve their interactions. Establishing a proper environment will allow them to lift one another to a higher level of individual and collective performance.
For this work to have the most significant impact, it needs to use positive psychology principles. Meaningful conversations to better understand one another as team members require us to understand the strengths we bring to the team. When everyone views the group through this lens, there is a more potent opportunity for tremendous success. From this perspective, members can ask what can improve teamwork, team dynamics, and team collaboration. The beneficial results range from 7%-23% higher overall employee engagement, 8%-18% increased plant performance, and 20%-73% lower attrition—a double win of greater workplace satisfaction and a better bottom line.
A strengths-based team approach supported by the CliftonStrengths assessment results allows for a decisive shift in the collective mindset. More excellent performance is possible when teams work together. We can optimize collaboration and team dynamics. The results further provide a common language and vocabulary that affords an opportunity better understand one another. The potential synergy increases for the team as members follow their passions, which leads to increased energy and more outstanding performance. A workplace culture emerges that attracts and retains high-caliber talent. While the bottom-line potential is potentially enhanced, the overall quality of life also vastly improves.
The assessment results provide scientific evidence of each team member's strengths in an objective form. Employee development has more significant potential using the provided information to improve employee engagement and development. A shift from what is wrong with an employee to one based on strengths can result in a positive coaching experience. As we lift each team member's strengths, the overall dynamic is a more engaged team using a strengths-based approach to implement the action steps necessary to realize a transformational vision.
Individuals interested in exploring the benefits of strengthening their teams can read Is Your Team Ready for the Team Strengths Grid? The Team Strengths Grid pulls the profiles of all team members into one document. In addition, the article shares an approach that the team can follow to improve their collective performance.
I am grateful for the pioneering work of Donald O. Clifton. As an author, educator, entrepreneur, psychologist, and researcher, his work in part was to develop the CliftonStrengths psychological assessment. His focus as a strengths-based psychologist is also something I appreciate.
Next week's blog will again explore the need for leaders to understand the benefits of strengthening the leadership team to support the adoption of the humanist manufacturing framework.
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