I recently had the opportunity to hear Alex Filippenko speak at Draper University of Heroes, the wild and innovative entrepreneurship program created by venture capitalist Tim Draper.
Alex is a crazy successful scientist who has been involved in a number of scientific breakthroughs, and has managed to relate his scientific discoveries to the world of leadership and entrepreneurship. My favorite part of his talk was his advice on building strong teams as a leader looking to make an impact.
Photo Courtesy of Berkeley.edu
Here are 6 steps to take when you are a new leader trying to build a highly effective team:
1. Clearly communicate roles and responsibilities
Alex’s first lesson of building teams stated the importance of clearly identifying the roles and responsibilities of each team member. Find what you will need in order to accomplish your goals and look for the best person available to do the job.
Communicate frequently in the beginning to find out whose strengths lie in what area. Then outline who will be responsible for what duties and make it clear to everyone.
2. Provide leadership positions
When first trying to lead a team, don’t try to assume all the leadership privileges. By being an asshole and alienating your team members by treating them as inferior, you will only be causing a significant amount of harm.
Instead, delegate responsibilities to others and give them the freedom to make decisions for that area. It will give them a sense of empowerment and confidence. It will also allow them to feel a sense of contribution and they will be very loyal to the team.
Don’t be afraid to create titles for other team members that boost their ego and give that feeling of importance.
3. Provide growth opportunities
Alex says it is also essential to open up opportunities for growth within the team. If someone on the team does something extraordinary, they should be rewarded with a more important title, and given more responsibilities and privileges.
Allow everyone to grow within the team, as the team grows together.
4. Ask for input & opinions; Appreciate the feedback
Ask everyone on the team to give their input and opinions on everything. Make sure everyone’s voice is valued and you are not alienating anyone’s ideas because you feel they are in an inferior position.
Immediately after an opinion or idea is offered to help better the team, express your appreciation for that person’s boldness and initiative. They are brainstorming to help achieve the team goals and they should be thanked for their input.
5. Provide public recognition
This is often forgotten by all leaders. I have read up on this concept some in John C. Maxwell books, and have researched the value of it. And then Mr. Filippenko reinstated this in my mind.
There is nothing in this world that people want more than the feeling of importance. People crave public recognition for their greatness and accomplishments. When someone on your team that your leading does something good or makes any form of progress whatsoever, take a minute to praise them in front of the rest of the team.
Tell others all over what this person did and how much of an accomplishment it was. This will be extremely motivating to this person, as they will feel a sense of pride for their hard work, and will continue to go above and beyond in producing results. It will also inspire others to work hard as well, because they will want to get that same public recognition from their leader.
6. Give “perks” to boost morale
I decided to add this last one in. This concept simply states that by offering perks in exchange for hard work, your team members will be more motivated and remain more loyal. For example, if an employer offers to give Friday off to all employees who get extra work done Monday through Thursday, they will be very motivated to put in extra hours early in the week.
You can play around with different perks, but it’s a good way to take away from the pressure and have things to look forward to.
For more information on Alex Filippenko, visit http://astro.berkeley.edu/people/faculty/filippenko.html
For more information on Draper University, visit http://draperuniversity.com
Quote of the Week
“Everything rises and falls on leadership” -John C. Maxwell
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