Too often managers and supervisors spend the majority of their time putting out fires and trying to prevent problems. Conversations are often centered around:
“Don’t do that.”
“We brought that up already.”
“Why did you do that?”
“How can we fix that?”
Their only focus is to ensure things are running smoothly by correcting issues. The leadership’s job is to make sure the team adheres to policies that were established years ago. They go through the motions of writing people up for coming in late, telling the team to stop gossiping a certain number of times a year and ensuring people do their best to get breaks.
The problem is when leadership only focuses on the daily operation they fail at planning for the future. All great leaders work towards mentoring each team member into being a leader. After all, leadership skills are not for leaders to hoard. Who wouldn’t want a team of amazing superstar leaders? If leaders focus on growing every one of their team members into potential leaders, their job will be secure.
I know what some of you are thinking,
“Not everyone on my team is a leader.”
This is where you are wrong. As I have said countless times, everyone excels at something that you do not. Even the worst performing on the team does something better than their manager or the best performer. Leaders figure out what each person’s super power is and then harness that power.
Leaders need to figure out what each individual person excels in and what they are passionate about. Over my years I have coached individuals to be leaders of client communication, leaders of mentoring new hires, leaders in training skills and knowledge, and leaders who can focus the team during a busy day to excellence. Some of my favorite leaders are those who lead in morale and motivation. Having an individual who actively works to boost the morale of the team or who helps motivate when times are tough is an amazing leader to have on your team.
1) Find Their Superpower: Look at what they excel in. What is the area, skill, or task they really do well? Perhaps they have many superpowers, but be sure to identify at least one.
2) Praise Them: Let them know what super power you see in them. “You are amazing in how you deal with difficult clients.”
3) Coach Them: Harness their superpower for good and have it create a better them and team.
4) Empower Them: Allow them to fly. Perhaps they are great at being a mentor to student or excellent with cat patients. Whatever it is, allow them to be the best leader in whatever they have a super power in.
5) Commit Resources to Developing People
I have seldom had a veterinary hospital do this. At least not at first. When I make this statement, the immediate question I’m asked is, “What is it going to cost?” The answer always is, “Not as much as the return you will get in developing your team.”
But what about teaching our teams some of these leadership skills? Would it hurt them to learn better communication skills? What about having a team meeting focused on conflict resolution? For individuals who are moving into leadership roles, we need to commit resources to them. Unfortunately, it is often an overlooked area that could truly improve the team dynamics for the remaining members of the team. It costs money to have a great team. Your team isn’t going to understand communication unless you invest money and time in the people who are in your hospital.
6) Place a High Value on Leadership
At meetings, we should praise those who go above and beyond. For those that may be heads of committees or responsible for certain areas of the hospital, be sure to reward them for their extra efforts so that the whole team sees the value of leadership. Imagine if managers pointed out great work by saying, “Way to handle that difficult client! You were an amazing leader.” How would that make the employee feel who it was said to? How would it make the team feel who heard it? It would likely cause more of the team to want to display leadership skills.
Lastly, start grooming your replacement. That’s right. Whether you retire or leave, all positions need a replacement. For the individuals you feel could make a move into management or supervisor positions, start grooming them now. Send them to leadership and management classes. Teach them about conflict resolution, motivation of teams and team development. Even if that individual does not become a manager for a few years they will better prepared when they do. They also will feel empowered to help promote a healthy team environment because they have the training to do so.
If leaders can focus more on developing individuals and harnessing their super powers they will find themselves putting out less fires. Employees want to feel empowered, cared about and valued. Cultivating leaders does all those things and more. Focus on the strengths of each individuals to create a team of leaders.