"D" Is For Directions

As always, I want to offer my sincere apology to Sue Grafton for using (stealing??) her approach for the titles of her many outstanding mystery novels for this series of articles that I hope makes YOU a happier and more effective leader working with a truly empowered team that really enjoys what they do! Oh, and if you have not read any of Ms. Grafton novels I highly recommend that you give her a try.

“I continue to find my greatest pleasures, and so my reward, in the work that precedes what the world calls success.”

 - Thomas Edison

First, you must accept and realize that you are the most critical component in becoming the leader of the team that you always wanted to lead. You must provide direction to your Teamers each day. This can be very difficult for some Middles, since they are used to just hearing what their Senior or Organization wants done and just retelling their Teamers what they have heard. But really effective middle management requires that you translate and properly define the project and the overall goals for each project. This requires that you develop the ability to provide direction daily to your Teamers for each project assigned to them. Some definitions are needed.

My dictionary defines direction as “control, guidance and supervision in overseeing during execution or performance.” But direction is also setting guidelines on what to do, what not to do, and always providing your Teamers with clear goals and expectations.

But in addition to direction you must also provide leadership and vision to each of your Teamers.

Leadership is always asking how I can help. How can we improve? What should we stop doing and what should we change or start doing? Leadership is also “coaching” that is, giving daily, even hourly attention and guidance to your Teamers by talking with them to find out their problems, questions and concerns with their projects.

In sports coaching is simple.

  • Show and tell them what you want them to do

  • Watch them do it

  • Stop them and tell them what they are “doing OK” and “not OK”

  • Give them help and ideas on fixing their “not OK’s”

  • Put them back in again

  • Do it all over again when you spot another “not OK”

Coaching should also be this simple in the corporate world too, but it usually isn’t.

Coaching is a daily and even hourly event. Don’t wait for the next One-on-One session if you see a problem. Take a moment now and do a special coaching session with your Teamer. Immediate feedback on performance is the best and most meaningful for your Teamers!

Lastly, my dictionary defines vision as “the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be.” Vision is the ability to see what’s coming and be right most of the time, and help your Teamers respond and plan for upcoming, potentially unseen changes. Vision is also the ability to be flexible, sort of like a coach that sees problems with the team’s performance and changes the defense based upon what the other team is doing.

This can be a very difficult core value for some individuals to develop and adopt. You must develop the abilities and trust in yourself to translate the goals and expectations that come from your Senior and your Organization so that your Teamers can truly know what to do and what is expected of them. And, you are the only person that can do this.

“To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world.”

- Ebony Mikle

 I wish you empowerment, happiness and every success! Jonesy