How do you ignite the want and need in your management team to lead like business partners?
I was asked this question by a client in a coaching session this week.
In modern business, change is a constant and growth is complicated. For SME’s especially, managers that are partners in the business growth and success are a must.
The time for command and control has passed.
Collaboration and creative problem solving are the critical tools for a management team. A single leader’s perspective can provide a starting point, and then team contribution builds the successful solution. Or so the theory says…
Leoni (RainTree’s other half) shared a little jewel, “The brain that identifies a problem generally needs help to solve the problem”. If they didn’t need to be part of the solution, they would not have identified the problem in the first place.
So, back to the challenge I was presented with… How do you ignite a sense of partnership in your management team? How do we get our managers to be as invested as we are in the growth of our business?
As we explored this question, my client shared his perception of some of the challenges that he has faced with his team who are not showing up as leadership partners.
He explained that they demonstrate a need and want someone to take responsibility for any failures. They don’t feel safe making mistakes and would rather do nothing than do something wrong. These insights revealed that the starting point for igniting partnership is safety. As we explored deeper, he unpacked that if he could create a space where they could safely communicate concerns and safely experiment with solutions, he felt sure that they would grow in self-confidence. Self-confidence is the first critical ingredient needed to build this team on their partnering journey.
The second challenge he faced is that the team would not make decisions without his input and insight.
He wanted them to proactively solve problems and step into their full leadership authority.
His revelation was that his “controlling” approach may be limiting their ability to contribute as leadership partners. This man was trained in the old school methods of leadership where he had to take control and always know the answer. He realised that this is not working as he often doesn’t have the information his managers have or their insights on their area within the business to know the “answer”. The quality of the solutions he crafts alone don’t meet the quality and sophistication that is required to navigate the new business landscape. Ownership of their expertise is the second ingredient to ignite in his team on their partnering journey.
Finally, he realised that the team (himself included) were not skilled at collaboration. None of them knew how to collaborate.
As part of our session, I shared a collaboration framework with him. The simple structure gave him the way to open the conversation with the team about leadership partnership. It also provided the starting point to secure suggestions and ideas from the team. It provided tools for him to empower them to agree on how to achieve the partnership in company leadership he needed. Our session had given him the opportunity to understand what he needed to do differently, and given him the space to decide how to do it.