Unstoppable Teams Part 2

Last week we discussed the first two pieces to the C.A.R.E Loop. Connect and Achieve. If you recall connecting is about connecting on a personal level with your employees. Achieve is to have attainable goals that force you to stretch yourself. Achieve is to also assure (encourage) your team members and appreciate their efforts both individually and as a team.

Next step of the loop is Respect:

If you want your team to care about their customers, they have to first show respect for each other. Respect is a verb meaning it is an action. Having mutual respect in a team is a powerful glue that holds the team together when under pressure.

If you don’t have respect within the team, then team members are more likely to pass the buck or the blame when the pressure is on. Mills says that respect comes from two places: 

  1. From your Authority
  2. From your actions

As a leader, you need to recognize each team member’s superpowers and acknowledge them. Remember as a leader you won’t be able to do it all. There will be team members that know more about somethings. For example, I had a team member who was remarkable at scheduling a marketing content calendar. I had a good understanding of marketing, but she had a superpower I did not and I was able to learn from her. We all have skills we can teach others. Do not feel threatened as a leader if a team member knows more than you. It is the various superpowers and each person’s skills that makes the team unique. As a leader when you encourage your team members to use their superpowers it builds a stronger team and builds respect for you as a leader.

Teams can respect each other and not always agree on the same course of action. Ed Catmull from Pixar describes this as a creative conflict. Often it is when teams can have honest, candid discussions to hash out the details, they can respectfully disagree as they work together to seek creative solutions working towards growth and success. A byproduct of this kind of collaboration is respect. When people feel that their contributions and their opinions are respected, they feel empowered to contribute more. We need everyone’s opinions, and the team members need to feel confident enough to share their thoughts and ideas. 

Teams need to eliminate their egos. In the first part of the C.A.R.E. Loop, “Connect” the leader needs to set the example and remove the “I” and use “We”. When we work as a team there is no “I”. Not one person is responsible for the success or failure of the project. To truly have the respect it is “we”.

The last part of the C.A.R.E Loop is to Empower

Empower closes the loop and it depends on being able to educate, enable and engage.

Empowering is giving team members responsibility and authority. Giving team members the authority to make decisions without having to run to the boss or manager for approval for every little decision. Nothing shows people that you care more than dedicating time to help them learn new skills.

I think of the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel get jobs at the chocolate factory. The supervisor gives a very fast demonstration and then demoralizes them by threatening their jobs if they don’t succeed. Lucy and Ethel share the challenges they had in the other departments of the factory before ending up on this part of the production line. The video is fun to watch and when we view at as a learning tool as to what not to do with teams. The supervisor acts like a dictator and invokes fear as the motivator that leads Lucy and Ethel to hide the chocolates as they struggle to keep up. When the supervisor comes out to check on them, she doesn’t engage them in a discussion, and once again fear keeps them from saying what is going wrong. 

All employees want to feel like their job even the most menial makes a difference. In the book The Fred Factor, the story was told of the busboy at the airport and how one passenger’s kind words to the importance of cleaning up the trash and wiping the tables makes a big difference. The kindness of a stranger did not change the job duties but the employee felt valued. All of sudden even that menial task of cleaning up others’ trash became important.

Empowerment is educating, learning new skills. Most people hunger to learn new things and are open to new suggestions. Unlike the I Love Lucy episode there was no engagement on how to make the process better to guarantee success. I have referenced my favorite supervision who epitomized their role as a leader by rolling up his sleeves and wanted to learn from me. He asked me to teach him my job so he had a better understanding, then he did the tasks. I was able to use his example when I too used his example and asked the people I was to be training and supervising to teach me about their jobs and encouraged them to share where the challenges were with their job functions. Active listening and asking questions for understanding helped to build trust and respect which also lead to a creative solution that made their jobs easier.

As a team leader, it is your job to close the C.A.R.E. Loop. As the leader, you build the bridge between team members and help them stay on track. Remember that the C.A.R.E. Loop is continuous. You will always be moving from one step the another and then back again. As a leader, the more control you can relinquish to empower your team to make decisions the more ability you have to guide them and lead them to achieve their highest potential.

Cheryl Viola, Executive Director

References

  • Mills, A. (2019). Unstoppable Teams: The Four Essential Actions of High-Performance Leadership. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
  • Mills, A. (2019, July 11). Teamwork, Soft Skills, and the Leadership CARE Loop. Retrieved from https://alden-mills.com/2019/04/teamwork-soft-skills-leadership-care-loop/
  • Sanborn, M. (2004). The Fred Factor: How passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. New York, NY: Currency.