Empowerment Leadership Model for Small Groups, Teams, & Families
Course 5, Lesson 31
Developing Teams That Can Assess Their Own Performance and Take Independent Action
to Improve Their Team and its Performance
Copyright 2001 Dick Wulf
Successful teams take total responsibility for their own performance and success. But, this does not happen automatically.
Team leadership is not team directorship. The successful team leader does not direct the action of the team. Instead, the successful team leader helps the team to direct its own work toward its own purpose. When the team leader gives the work of the team to the team to direct, the team will take responsibility for getting the job done. When and where the team does not, the team leader asks what is holding the team back from taking responsibility for its own success. Once this is worked through, the team leader has a team that can assess its own performance and take independent action to improve the team and its performance.
Of course, for the team to take responsibility for its own success, there must be times when the team gathers, either informally, or, better yet, in a team meeting for the purpose of assessing the performance of the team and doing other tasks of the team. Time lost in team meetings, if the team leader does a good job of helping, will be regained by better team performance.
When the team is gathered as a whole in a meeting or in part at the water cooler or wherever, the team leader can ask, “How do you think the team is progressing on its purpose?” Other questions can be the following. “How does the team need to work better together?” “What problems does the team need to solve to be more successful?” “What is getting in the way of the team doing the best job possible?” “How does the team think it is doing in addressing [problem]?” “Can the team think of a better way to [do whatever]?” Etc.
During the ensuing discussion, the team leader must not give his or her own ideas. Instead of thinking of his or her own answers to the question he or she has raised, the team leader needs to think about how the team is addressing the question raised. When the team gets stuck, it is the well-thought-out question of the team leader that gets the team going again on assessing its own performance. Too much activity on the team leader’s part will stop the process of examining itself, and the team may let the team leader take over, usually resenting such intrusion.
Every time the team assesses its own behavior and works on its own problems, the team becomes more skillful. After a while, the team will develop much confidence and be proud of its own abilities. If a new team leader is assigned who begins to take over directing the work of the team, all that has been accomplished will likely be lost. Morale, which was wonderfully high, will plummet and management will have created a catastrophe. The church will greatly benefit from a self-directed team that has grown in competency and confidence. It does not want to undo what it has gained by previous good team leadership.
Congratulations! You have completed Course 5.
Copyright 2012 Dick Wulf, Colorado, USA