Developing Leaders Who Build Strong and Stable Teams

Right now, there are nearly as many job openings as people seeking work[i]. Nearly every industry, from healthcare to hospitality, faces a shortage in at least one or more key job group. Is it possible to meet this challenge while maintaining standards? The answer is yes – but it will require a shift in not only how we hire, but also in how we select and prepare the individuals in formal leadership roles.

One red paper boat, two blue paper boats, two teal paper boats

In today’s speed-of-light world, managers have the potential to positively transcend all aspects of the work environment – and are in a prime position to build retention within their teams. While pay and compensation, if too low, can be a deciding factor in whether to stay or leave – the quality of leadership determines if your new cooks, programmers, or nurses have the resources they need to perform, foster strong positive relationships with others, and know their effort makes a positive impact. In fact, you’ve probably heard the expression, “people don’t leave jobs – they leave managers”. Undoubtedly, selecting and developing leaders, and planning for future talent with succession planning, is fraught with uncertainty. With internal promotions to leadership roles, you may be judging between people with limited, or very different, leadership experience. However, with external hires, you lack hands-on knowledge and experience with how they perform, and how they will fit with your culture.

In this series, we’ll highlight key takeaways to increase the potential of your leaders to build strong and stable teams. What can leaders inspire within their teams so followers feel committed to the group and your organization? For our first discussion, we’ll start at the foundation: the basic thoughts, feelings, or states of mind, which can ignite commitment and joy within a team: Confidence, Competence, Belonging, and Pride. When employees feel and believe these states of mind they are more likely to be committed to your organization long-term. What is more, these four states of mind are directly under the control of your leaders.

Four States of Mind

1. Competence. At the very foundation of performance is competence: do both new and existing employees have the knowledge, skills, abilities, and traits needed to perform? For teams to be successful their members must have the horsepower necessary to achieve success. This starts with equipping your leaders with the tools to hire team members with the potential to excel in their roles and continues with training – not only at the onset of employment, but on an ongoing basis. Leaders can build retention by benchmarking the performance, skills, and abilities within their teams and using this for succession planning – constantly improving skills and abilities.

2. Confidence. Teams not only need to believe in their own potential, but the potential of the entire team and their fearless leader. Retention starts with companies intentionally designing onboarding programs that thoroughly train new employees on job tasks, company culture, and give employees the opportunity to perform before being held accountable. Supervisors should give employees informal day-to-day feedback and also have mechanisms for formal evaluations – such 30-60-90 day reviews. Leaders can also ask their new team members for their feedback on what they see as the team and leader’s strengths and opportunities.

3. Pride. We gain pleasure and satisfaction from accomplishing something challenging and achieving ambitious goals. Leaders can build pride in their teams by teaching and enforcing the culture. Pride comes from knowing and keeping your organization’s standards for excellence. In their role as teacher, leaders must deliver an inspiring picture of the future they want to create, why it is important, how to get there, and what is in it for employees if they commit to the journey. What leaders teach is a shared understanding of the “what” and “why” of the right thing to do. We want to be a part of something that has a reputation for human goodness, flawless execution, and being best-in-class. When leaders teach and enforce the means for getting us there – and help us reach the destination – teams are committed to overcome the next obstacle.

4. Belonging. This is a fundamental human need: we want to feel a sense of connection with others and that we “fit” with the team. By taking the steps to provide a sense of pride, confidence, competence, belonging, or a sense of connectedness, individuals and teams should flourish. Practices such as mentorship, team-led training, and informal or formal celebrations of personal and professional success, can further foster a sense of “oneness” within your team. One key thread throughout each of the four states of mind is purpose. Leaders who live and communicate a purpose, stemming from your company culture and core beliefs, can instill a strong sense of connectedness within their teams.

Retention starts with leadership. By thinking through the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs you want your employees to experience as intensely as you do for your customers, patients, or guests, you can build a consistent employee experience that is as exceptional as the one you provide for those you serve. Indeed, a customer’s experience will never be greater than the one you provide for your employees – and that starts with your leaders.

To learn more about the relationship between your employee experience and achieving active stakeholder loyalty, take a look at our Egg Model of Experience and Results – and make sure to check out the next blog in this series on building strong and stable teams through leadership.

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[1] So Many Jobs, So Few Workers.  The Wall Street Journal.  April 13, 2018.

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