Communicate, a principle of leadership that makes a strong team

COMMUNICATE: Principle of Leadership That Makes or Breaks a Team?

leadership team development Mar 19, 2021

If you are a team leader, what principles of leadership set you apart from other leaders of leaders?

After all, we all have guiding beliefs that define our leadership styles. Some of us care deeply about people. Others of us go out of the way to be vulnerable and approachable. And still others offer our exuberant energy to mobilize teams to action.

Regardless of the principles that guide you to success, how you communicate with your people is an important factor that can impact your effectiveness as a leader.

Principle of Leadership #1 - Choose Your Words

I think that helping a team to communicate well is a lot like gardening.

I don’t garden, but I have a lot of experience watching my husband fight for his crops every year in the scorching Texas sun.

First, he chooses the right seeds to plant. Second, he observes the seeds as they grow, so that the plants thrive without any pesky weeds overshadowing them.

If you want to see more trust and compassion between your team members, then choose the right seeds. For example, plant vulnerability and integrity in your team. Prepare the soil of your team by taking a closer look at what your team meetings look like. What do your people say about each other when their colleagues are not in the room? When there is conflict, how do your people step-in and step-out of crucial conversations?

Remember that communicating is not just sharing thoughts, feelings, and information. It’s also active listening, asking questions, and sometimes taking a break when emotions get the best of us. Strengthen the principles your leadership style rests on by intentionally choosing to foster better communication between your people through open, vulnerable, and safe conversations.

Principle of Leadership #2  - Observe Your Team

My husband spends a lot of time observing his garden, watering it, and weeding it. If you want your team to communicate well, then observe your team in action, i.e., do your people interact in a way that tells you that they feel safe and engaged?

If your answer is NO, then do something about it. Courageously and confidently put a stop to any conversations or attitudes that go against the principles you want to instill in your team.

If your answer is YES, then praise, affirm, and celebrate the type of communication that you want to see between your people even more often.

Be a team leader nourishes what’s good on the team and weeds out what’s not serving the team well.

Principle of Leadership #3 - Be Consistently Present

Move your team from unstructured to structured by having frequent, consistent, and intentional meetings with your people.

Frequency and consistency of regular oversight meetings builds trust between team leaders and their people. When team members are in constant communication with their team leader, friction and occasional misunderstandings are quickly resolved and forgotten; they don’t grow into those intimidating garden weeds that suck the life out of the entire team.

Second, if you don’t have a structure for your one-on-one conversations, you should put one in place. A good starting place is the format of 5 conversations that drive performance, as described in the book, It’s the Manager.

Here they are:

  1. Role and Relationship Orientation.

This once-a-year conversation allows the manager to define what success looks like in the individual’s role.

  1. Quick Connect.

No longer than 10 minutes, these ongoing weekly conversations should be anchored around the individual’s strengths.

  1. Check In.

They are bi-monthly conversations that last no longer than 30 minutes to review “successes and barriers and align and reset priorities.”

  1. Developmental Coaching.

Dubbed the most difficult of the 5, it’s most effective when centered around project assignments and developmental opportunities, all playing into the employee’s strengths.

  1. Progress Reviews.

These reviews should be held at least twice a year and focus on the employee’s success and growth opportunities.

The reward of paying attention to the way your team members communicate is having a team that’s healthy and strong enough to weather any storm. We have seen that true with many teams that have gone through our High Performing Team Program.

Take the Challenge

Here is a challenge for you. If you want to use your leadership principles to build a positive culture in your team, step up the way you communicate with you people.

Make a point of “checking in” with every person on your team this week. And when you do, ask them just one question, “Is there anything you need from me this week?” Most likely, their answer will be negative but your intention behind the question will speak volumes to your people.

As Brene Brown once said, “We don’t have to be perfect, just engaged and committed to aligning values with actions.”


If you’re looking for more ideas around getting the most out of your team, download a copy of the Executive Guide to Healthy Teams.

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