For a really long time, I did not understand what drove people to ignore their job responsibilities. I did not understand why any individual deliberately chose not to follow a manager’s directive or be so bold as to go the opposite direction then previously instructed.
Then, I gained perspective when I entered a corporate setting.
It’s not to say that I agree or even promote folks to do this. That’s not what I mean at all.
What I do mean is that I now fully understand how people who have been managed inappropriately fell and why they would completely shut down.
This article serves to give insight to those who wish to create a culture that is driven by a set standard while allowing the employee to hold themselves accountable for their behavior. I find this information very useful to anyone who is in leadership positions while working in a corporation, and to those who are looking to start their own business.
Let’s get into it.
#1 Set the Example
Anyone who has previously worked with a boss who asked more than they themselves were willing to give knows exactly how this feels.
Not only do you want to deliberately ignore everything they say, but you also want to quit.
I remember the time one of my kids and I were discussing individuals that bark orders. I couldn’t help but smile and say “If you have ever noticed, I never ask more of you than what I myself am willing to do. I wouldn’t ask you to wash dishes if I wasn’t willing to do so myself.” There was a small pause after that as the youngster soaked it in.
For some reason, someone down the line forgot to add this to the curriculum in leadership training. However it is vital if you wish to be successful when managing a team.
Now that’s not to say that you need to know how to do every aspect of the jobs that you require performed. That would be completely nuts. You do need to have some initiative and be willing to jump into a role if a member of your team requires assistance. You should know your key people well enough to bring their specific skill set to optimal use at the time of need.
Your team is always watching how you lead. If you hold yourself accountable for your own actions, they will as well. If you hold yourself responsible for the team’s success or failures, they will acknowledge that. And slowly you will see a shift in culture towards a more disciplined approach.
#2 Allow Others to Question
It is kind of funny that this section of this article should bring about so many memories of my in office experiences.
The first that comes to mind would be the label that a colleague placed on me as “The Troublemaker.” This would probably be because of the amount of questions I ask as to why.
“Why are we moving in this direction instead of the other?”
“Why are we doing this and what is the end goal we hope to accomplish?”
If you just want silence and obedience from your team, then you will not be a successful leader, manager, or whatever.
Shutting down questions will lead to 2 things: 1. A stop in creative problem solving 2. A start of passive aggressive behavior.
Flash ahead to present day, post my promotion. The current team I am with almost always stops me dead in my tracks and questions things if they make zero sense.
To anyone who is not used to having courageous team members, this may be frustrating. Hell, I find this frustrating from time to time. But the individual may indeed have a point. And most do.
After the initial reaction, come back to the subject with a fresh set of eyes. Turn your initial reactive response into a proactive one by opening yourself to their view. You may find that you may need to shift your direction and directive.
#3 Do Not Fear Failure
I think one of the biggest fears of managers or entrepreneurs is the fear of failure. They fear that they may not be able to recover financially or from the embarrassment of losing.
To those who do, I challenge you to take a look at your past failures. What did you learn from them? Have you grown stronger from the past failure?
Here’s the thing about mistakes and being afraid to fail- If you become a stronger individual from your past, if you have learned something in any shape or form, then those mistakes were never really mistakes.
Understand that anything you decide to do in life has the possibility of failing. That does not mean that you shouldn’t try it.
If you continue to live in fear of failure, you lose the chance to experience life itself.
If you continue to live in fear of looking stupid because of a mistake you might possibly make, then you lose the chance to laugh at yourself and grow stronger from it.
You literally stunt your own growth living in fear.
Acknowledge that you are human and you can make mistakes. Then choose to make them anyway so that your character can grow and your team will follow.
#4 Hold Yourself Accountable
I know of a few people that do the following and think it’s tied to being an accountable individual.
If you fall in this category then my friend you are highly mistaken.
Accountability in its raw form is holding yourself responsible for the direction of your actions and your team’s. Whether your team fails or succeeds, you should hold yourself accountable and act as such.
Remember in the first step of this article we discussed setting the example? Now is the time to hold yourself to that set standard.
No one will ever be inspired by a person whose actions are in complete contrast of what they preach. So if you wish to be taken seriously, then there is no way around this.
An example of this would be: If you divide your troops too far, you should acknowledge that they might lose sight of what they are working towards. If you take the responsibility to keep them aligned to one common purpose then you can minimize the risk for failure.
Understand that a big contributor to success or failure is the ability to make yourself accountable for you and your team’s actions.
#5 Brace for the Unexpected
Although you should never fear failure, you should always prepare for the unexpected. This is why stifling your team’s voices is a stab at your vision for success.
No matter how much you plan or try to minimize risk, there will inevitably be something that you did not see coming. Therefore, preparation is just as important for failure as it is for success.
Ask yourself, what is the worst case scenario should this go awry, and how can I change that for the better.
Engage your team in planning for the unexpected as they might allow for a better set of ideas that could minimize the risk that you are taking, and prepare for the unexpected. They may come up with another scenario that you may have not even thought of.
Remember, you should be able to switch gears should the circumstance call for it. Be ready for it and do not fear it.
#6 Allow Creative Problem Solving
One thing that I love about people in general is their individuality.
I love to engage with a person and be able to understand a totally different perspective then my own. I love how others think and value that over any other thing that they can give me.
However, not everyone shares the same feelings as I do toward individuality and diversity.
Again, this sucks.
Creative problem solving starts by being accepting of the individuality of your team, and what they bring to your work environment. Create an accepting environment by making yourself available to your team and having the time to listen to new fresh ideas and perspectives.
Challenge yourself not to speak when someone else is talking. Listen to understand, not to engage after their idea has been expressed. Engage with the speaker in your conversation by connecting with what they are saying. Allow yourself to feel their thoughts and words.
Doing so allows for rapport to be built within the group. The exchange of ideas will multiply tenfold if you consider honest, open communication.
#7 Allow for Flexibility
If 2020 has taught us anything, it has to be that at any given time, things can change. Look at our new normal. Think about how quickly we as a human race quickly adapted in only 1 year to overcome and survive as a species.
If you think that flexibility has nothing to do with it, you are highly mistaken.
Flexibility and the ability to evolve has been the cornerstone of resiliency in absolutely every company that has been successful. In the work culture you are trying to create, it should then hold a high place in the overall structure.
Things go wrong more times than many of us are willing to admit. It helps to remember that we were built for this. We were made to overcome the most extreme circumstances.
So give it all you got. Should the time come to change course, don’t gripe. Accept it and change direction. Then give it all you got again.
If all 7 of these characteristics have been implemented into the work culture of your team, then you are well on your way to creating a disciplined staff.
Creating an atmosphere of inclusion allows for your team members to express themselves freely. The results will be gradual at first, but soon enough will be astounding.
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Yaritza Ellison has been an nurse since 2010. She has been essential to the healing process of many and seeks to continue to do so. Her passion for mental health and self help literature has lead her to launch justyari.org, where she aspires to coach young ladies navigating through work-life balance.