Tyler Reagin

Husband. Father. Producer. Coach.

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Qualities of a Great Team Leader (part 5 of 6)

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Qualities of Great Team Leaders (part 5 of 6)

 

Almost there people.  It’s only taken me a month to get to the 5th and 6th qualities on our list.  Here’s a reminder of the list of 10 qualities of a great leader:

 

1. Leverage Influence for the team

2. Approachable

3. Solid Grip on Reality

4. Relational

5. Consistent

6. Calm/Stable

7. Release Ownership

8. Self-Aware

9. Trustworthy

10. Respected

 

7. Release Ownership

 

Almost every time I have talked with leaders who have left a job, ministry or team because of the “boss”, they will mention a couple reasons they did not want to stay.  At the top of almost every list is the famous phrase, “They micro-managed me”.  Let’s talk about that for a minute.

 

I don’t think people leave their jobs because their direct report was in their business or cared how they did their job.  I would argue, it’s because they wouldn’t release ownership to the team.  No one really wants to work for a team leader or boss who have nothing to do with their job.  Everyone wants to know if they are doing a good job and being successful, but they want to have the freedom to own their areas.  Think about it for a minute.  Who wants to work for someone who NEVER tells them how they are doing or gives them any direction/vision for what success looks like?  It crosses the line when the boss doesn’t trust their team to do their jobs.

 

Now to stand up the for the team leaders…you need to give them every reason to trust and feel like they can hand it to you.  The way I’ve always said it is:  ”I hired you because you are competent and GREAT at what you do.  I want to fight for your health and speak into the process so you know what’s expected.  However, you go and kill your job because that’s what I hired you to do!”

 

Great team leaders not only know how to trust the current team, but they know how to hire great people to make trusting easier.  Our teams will never reach their full potential until we let go and allow them to shine.

 

Team Leaders:  What’s the worst that can happen if you let go of something to your team that they are probably better at anyway?

 

8.  Self-Aware

 

This trait is such a no brainer to me, but I realize it still needs to be addressed.  For the past few years when I coach teams and leaders, I usually start by talking about Emotional Intelligence (See Daniel Goleman’s What Makes a Great Leader article).  The foundational trait of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is self-awareness.  So one of the exercises that I will do with these teams is to have them describe characteristics of leaders with high EQ.  Here’s some of the usual answers:

 

Confident

Secure

Self-Deprecating

Trustworthy

Calm

Integrity

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ll sign up to do anything where I can have those traits.  Self-awareness makes great team leaders because teams want to follow someone who know themselves.  Patrick Lencioni talks about how many CEOs he works with that try and hide their weaknesses or personality quirks.  He argues you can’t be TOO vulnerable because your team already knows all of those things.  When we are not self-aware and open about ourselves, our teams lose trust in us because we are not acting in an authentic way.  Plus who wants to work for someone who “Fakes it to Make it”?  Not me.

 

When I meet with leaders, one of the greatest things I believe that God has to say to them in this regard is simple…The quicker you become proud of the unique way that God has created you, the quicker you will become a great leader.  I know it’s hard sometimes to look into your life and heart and wiring.  But do you think that God messed up with how he created your personality?  It is so tempting to look at all people around us and covet that trait and this characteristic.  What if God created you in a unique way to use you in a specific purpose?  Be yourself.

 

What assessment or person could you connect with this week to help you become more self-aware?  

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Qualities of a Great Team Leader (part 4 of 6)

Keep-Calm-and-Carry-On-1939-MOI-Original-Poster

Today I want to talk about the 5th and 6th qualities on our list.  Here’s a reminder of the list of 10 qualities of a great leader:

 

1. Leverage Influence for the team

2. Approachable

3. Solid Grip on Reality

4. Relational

5. Consistent

6. Calm/Stable

7. Release Ownership

8. Self-Aware

9. Trustworthy

10. Respected

 

 

5. Consistent

 

The definition of consistent is simple…Unchanging in achievement or effect over a period of time.  Another way to say this would also be integrity.  My southern, simple version is this: What you see is what you get.  There are obviously times when you have bad days and act in unexpected ways.  The key in those times are those days are exceptions and not the rule.

 

Let’s be honest.  No one wants to be in a relationship with anyone whose moods change with the wind and their decisions seem to have no rhyme of reason.  If you lead that way, then you will keep your team on their heals, never able to gain traction or confidence, and struggling to be their best.

 

I have often said that one of my highest values as a person (maybe my highest) would be being known to have the same personality and character at home, the office, church or out with friends on the golf course.  I obviously do different things depending on the environment I’m in, but my character and personality are constant.  It requires fighting hard for your personality and being yourself.

 

This does not immune any of us to having a bad day.  The difference is that when we are having a bad day, people will know it’s a bad day and not the normal.

 

Is it just me, or is this a must for a great team leader?

 

6. Calm/Stable

 

I know this sounds very similar to the trait right before this, but I would argue that there is a difference in these two.  Specifically with the calm attribute.

 

In England, it’s often said, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”  I’m almost convinced that they took that from me.  There is a reason that some of the best coaches in professional sports resemble men and women of calm.  They can take every moment and regulate their emotions so they can stay in clarity.  Think about it…Phil Jackson, Bill Belichek and Bobby Cox were all in a league of their own when it comes to leading teams.  I would argue that their calmness served them well and constantly kept them focused and clear minded.  As well as the occasional intensity to wake everyone up!

 

Rorke Denver (lead Navy Seal in Act of Valor) spoke at this year’s Leadercast event and tells a story of a commanding officer teaching the recruits this simple phrase, “Calm is contagious.”  How true.  Team leaders that can stay calm in the face of plans that fail, technology that breaks and team members that get anxious, will attract an amazing team with a loyal following.

 

What is one area you could be asking God to give you calm in that would make you a great team leader? 

 

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Qualities of a Great Leader (part 3 of 6)

reality-check

 

Today I want to talk about the 3rd and 4th qualities on our list.  Here’s a reminder of the list of 10 qualities of a great leader:

1. Leverage Influence for the team
2. Approachable
3. Solid Grip on Reality
4. Relational
5. Consistent
6. Calm/Stable
7. Release Ownership
8. Self-Aware
9. Trustworthy
10. Respected

 

3. Solid Grip on Reality
This is such an important characteristic for team leaders.  We can all think back to a former or current team leader who has Reality Depravation (see Steve Jobs biography for a more in depth understanding of this term).  In other words, what they think is reality, is so far from the truth that they are blind to it.  They live in a world that is removed from the day to day operation of their team and their team suffers for it.

I recently re-read the Executive Book Summary (summary.com) of Primal Leadership.  I have been taking our entire company through the Emotional Intelligence principle that is from this book and the article by Daniel Goleman (read it here).  To sum up EQ (emotional intelligence), the best leaders in the world are in tune with the emotional state of their teams and themselves.  It is crucial to the success of leading.

Here’s the quote:

“Dissonant leadership produces groups that feel emotionally discordant, in which people have a sense of being continually off-key…they create wretched workplaces-although they have no idea how destructive they are, or simply don’t care.  Meanwhile, the collective distress they trigger becomes the group’s preoccupation, deflecting attention away from their mission.”

If team leaders do not have a firm grip on reality and stay in tune with their team, dissonant leadership will take over and they will begin the erosion of their influence.  No leader wants that.  The more “out of tune” you are with the realities of your team and your tasks, the quicker your team loses confidence in your leadership.  Simple as that.

Figure out ways to keep a pulse on your teams realities.  

 

4. Relational

This trait goes perfectly along with the last trait.  The best team leaders in the world understand that you must value relationships.  I know that sounds so simple and like a no brainer.  However, the number of leaders that will ALWAYS choose results over relationships is staggering.

I will be the first to say that there are times you MUST choose the right result and create withdrawals with your team’s equity.  One of the drastic differences for teams is when the leader makes constant relational deposits allowing for the occasional withdrawal to be only a bump in the road.  When a leader mostly chooses results first, every time they have to make a relational withdrawal, it turns into a huge ordeal.

I often say that a litmus test for my team leadership is whether or not the spouses of my team still like me.  I know that sounds cheesy and a little subjective but it is a great gauge on how I’m leading their husband or wife.  Nothing makes me prouder as a team leader than when a spouse, friend or family member of my team tell me how much they appreciate my leadership.  Fighting for those relationships is so important.

Patrick Lencioni has basically built an entire business model and array of books that are based on being great relational leaders.  I would argue that fighting for staff and team members and valuing the relationships will always make you business or organization better.

If you are a naturally results oriented leader, choose relationships.  It will make the results pushes easier.  If you are naturally relationship oriented, keep depositing and push for results when appropriate.

What can you do to make some relational deposits today?

 

 

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Qualities of a Great Team Leader (Part 2 of 6)

Today I want to talk about the first two qualities on our list.  Here’s a reminder of the 10 qualities of a great leader:

1. Leverage Influence for the team
2. Approachable
3. Solid Grip on Reality
4. Relational
5. Consistent
6. Calm/Stable
7. Release Ownership
8. Self-Aware
9. Trustworthy
10. Respected
1.  Leverage Influence for the team
Let’s start with how great team leaders leverage their influence for the sake of those around them.  In his recent 8 part series called Follow, Andy Stanley outlined the importance of this in the 7th part of the series (check it out here.)  Basically, paraphrasing of course, when you are at the top of the food chain at your office or on your team, how you leverage your influence is an indication of the type of leader you are.  He would argue (and obviously I agree) that the greatest [team] leaders are the ones who use that influence, resource and power to bring others up and serve them.  This comes from the passage in Mark 10, where James and John ask Jesus if they can sit at his right and left in paradise.
He then says, “You know that those are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them…not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.”
Here’s what this looks like in a day to day situation.  Great team leaders will always see opportunities for them as opportunities for their team.  Many times they will use the resources given to them to celebrate, develop and care for their teams.  It is so powerful when leaders are with their teams until the last chair is stacked and the lights are turned out.  We have all had moments where we saw our leaders as sweaty as the rest of the team while everyone knows they don’t have to do that.  It’s contagious.  It’s the kind of leader everyone wants to work for….I mean with. Great team leaders feel like they are on your team and are constantly leveraging all they have at their disposal to serve.
2. Approachable
The second quality on this list cannot be removed or deleted from a great team leaders resume.  To me, this has to be such a central principle that without it, I’m not convinced you can be a great TEAM leader.  I know the argument can be had that there were great leaders in history who were not approachable.  Agreed.  But I would argue they were not necessarily great TEAM leaders.  They probably were brilliant minds and strategist that led through fear and had turn over.
Great team leaders create a culture on their team where your team members feel the freedom to express their thoughts and an “open-door” type policy.  I always want my team to feel like they can bring any question, comment or concern to me.
Let me say this as well.  When this is accomplished correctly, there is not a lack of respect for the authority your role carries.  At Catalyst East last October, Patrick Lencioni talked about the argument that many CEOs or execs would use about being vulnerable and approachable.  He said that you can’t be vulnerable enough.  I would add that when your team members feel like you are authentic and their advocates, they will respect your position even more!
I can promise you one thing, approachability will create a team of loyal team members.  Try it and let me know if I’m wrong…

 

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Ten Characteristics of Great Team Leaders (A series of blog posts)

team-leader.ashx

 

For those of you that know me, you know that nothing excites me more than coaching and leading teams. I love it. I find fulfillment in leading and developing highly efficient, excellent, healthy teams more than most other things I do in business.

 

In the spring this year, I took our entire Executive team and the team leads from Catalyst and GiANT Impact away for a two-day retreat. The goals were simple: learn more about each other. Learn about our unique wiring. Learn the DNA of our current team, and create energy around becoming great leaders.

 

I spent most of the time digging into the Right Path assessment of each leader and talking about how their unique wiring was perfect for parts or their roles. I also addressed how a few trait intensities need to be on their radar for potential struggles. One of the things I love about Right Path is that we can address some difficult personality characteristics in an unemotional way. It really is why I am such an evangelist for this tool.

 

However, prior to that time, I asked these leaders what they believe makes great team leaders. It did not take long for us to come up with a list of 21 qualities that would surface from the greatest team leaders we know.

 

I have narrowed it down to the top 10, which is still too many, but I can’t edit anymore. So over the next few weeks, I want to talk about each of these characteristics and the value that they bring to leading teams.

 

Before we start, I have one MAJOR precursor to this list. It was the point of the entire exercise, and 9.99 times out of 10 this is true with this exercise. If you look at this entire list of characteristics, less than 5-10% of the traits would be qualified as a “results–based” trait. In other words, almost all the great traits that are attractive and constitute great leadership have to do with how you lead PEOPLE. John Maxwell always says that leadership is influence. I would add that you influence people, not necessarily projects. So as we go through this list, I would love for you to think about where you have seen these play out in the leaders you have respected the most and how you can apply them to your leadership.

 

I want to just give you the list ahead of time, in case you decide to tune out over the next few weeks. Here they are in no particular order:

 

1.  Leverage Influence for the Team

Great team leaders leverage their influence and power to promote and serve their teams. (Andy Stanley talks extensively about this.)

 

2.  Approachable

A team leader that creates a culture of approachability is a leader worth following.

 

3.  Solid Grip on Reality

In Steve Jobs’ biography, the author uses a phrase that Steve had reality depravation. Leaders who are not in-tune with reality create teams that are unhealthy and frustrated.

 

4.  Relational

Over and over again, leaders talk about and point to relational leaders as being more effective than results–first leaders. It doesn’t mean results do not matter because they clearly do. It’s how do you lead people to results. Emotional Intelligence is central to this conversation.

 

5.  Consistent

Let’s be honest, no one wants to be on a team that they have to guess which mood the leader is in or what today is going to hold because of the inconsistencies of the team leader.  

 

6.  Calm/Stable

Rorke Denver talked recently about a Commander that gave their team one of the greatest leadership lessons ever while they were in the field. He simply said, “Calm is contagious.” So true.

 

7.  Release Ownership/Delegate

Nothing shows the commitment of the team leader more than a leader who is willing to release ownership and delegate important tasks, projects, and relationships. It shows way more than just trust; it shows character and priority.

 

8.  Self-aware

There is something attractive about leaders who just know who they are and operate with an extensive self–awareness. I’ve always said the quicker we can be proud of how God wired us, the quicker we will become the leader he wants us to be.

   

9.  Trustworthy

I’m pretty sure this requires no explanation, but integrity will always be at the top of the list for the greatest leaders in the world.

 

10. Respected

As much as I wish that all respect comes from relational investments over time with your team, I’ll be the first to admit that competency to achieve results is also crucial to this characteristic. You can’t lead well without a standard of excellence and a strong skill set for work.