How to Manage Your Staff and Lead a Team

Read Yoni Colman's tips for how to best manage your staff, lead an effective team, and be most productive. Includes suggested readings for further thought.

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Whether your team is large or small, there are particular behaviors that are emblematic of good managers and productive teams. My approach to management in NCSY can be summed up in 3 essential components:

  1. Build Your Team.
  2. Lead Your Team.
  3. Get Stuff Done.

 Build Your Team

Ask Questions.
When engaging with a team member, be sure to ask questions about what is going for them, what concerns them. Be genuinely inquisitive, it will help provide insight for you to lead more effectively.

Use active listening in response to your questions. Reflect back concepts in your own words. Demonstration of real understanding will go a long way towards building your team.

Don’t Judge.
If and when a team member discloses information in response to an inquiry that you feel is not valid, flip the scenario and try to imagine if you were in their shoes. Different people have different perspectives, and it’s important to not judge those perspectives. To build a great team, you need to channel those perspectives towards the goals of the team.

Invest time in understanding what talents you have, and what supports your team members need. If you can do this, you will be able to give towards their individual effort effectively.

Lead Your Team

Be Consistent.
Don’t say one thing and then do something else. Follow through on what you say will do. Operate in scenarios in an honest and accountable way. It’s like good parenting in a way; consistent leaders will earn the respect of the team. Inconsistent leaders will not.

Include the Team in Goal Setting.
There’s what to be said for including your team in charting a course to reach your goals. Doing so will increase cohesiveness and buy-in. Setting goals independently without including your team will not be as conducive for earning their respect and loyalty.

Set Goals, Deliverables, and Benchmarks.
Once you’ve included your team members and set goals together, you can then discuss what needs to happen, and who should be accountable for each of those goals. As a leader, you may need to refine those goals. Again, doing this together will be more effective than setting it yourself and proclaiming “this is how it is.”

Address Issues.
Do not let issues sit and fester! If you do, it will harbor negativity in a team! If a team member is doing something wrong, a good leader will bring it to their attention in a way which is respectful and comes from a place of genuine concern. Shifts and deviations in a team should never come as a surprise. Lay the groundwork and have conversations beforehand to facilitate transitions (such as changing roles).

Get Stuff Done

Do, or Do Not - There is No "Try."
This is my favorite quote from the Star Wars movies, because it speaks volumes about the power of will and determination. Yoda, Jedi Master is training Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Force. Yoda encourages Luke to break his preconceived notion of what he can or cannot accomplish by telling him to eliminate the word “try” from his vocabulary. When speaking about what you or the team will accomplish, do not think about trying, think about doing, and this will in turn drive better results and better success.

Suggested Readings

From Good to Great: The "First Who, then What" Concept by Jim Collins

The Right People are Self-Motivated by Jim Collins

Givers, Takers, and Matchers by Adam Grant (see video here)

5 Levels of Leadership by John C. Maxwell (see video here)

Click here to see the Prezi used to accompany this presentation at NCSY Staffcon 2015.