On December 25, 2020, President-Elect Joe Biden called a bedridden woman who was battling the same brain cancer that took the life of his son Beau. If you followed his career, this isn’t exactly uncommon for Biden. But, compare that to what unfolded not even two weeks later in Washington D.C.
As I’m sure that you’re all aware, our nation’s capital was stormed upon. It was frightening and a scene that none of us forget. The issue seemed to be because the leader of the free world who couldn’t accept the truth about something — and appeared to fan the flames of a group of disenfranchised supporters.
I don’t want to get into a heated debate here — and I am not supporting one party over the other. But, in my opinion, these separate events highlight how a leader should and shouldn’t behave. All issues, at this time, are especially poignant during a global pandemic when many Americans are struggling with their mental health. Even putting food on the table is a struggle for many — and social unrest is rarely a good thing.
Now, more than ever, we need a healer-in-chief.
Will that healer of the nation be Joe Biden? Only time will tell, but he seems to be heading in the right direction. But what are we doing in leadership at this time?
Unlike his predecessor, who is spreading mistruths and not holding himself accountable — Biden is listening. He’s empathetic. And he wants to bring the country back together.
“Leadership doesn’t have to be boastful or boisterous, but it does need to be compassionate,” Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester told CNN back in June 2020. ‘It does need to really listen to people so that they are heard, and then it takes that information and provides this leadership in action.”
Again, this isn’t a glowing endorsement. Instead, this should serve as a blueprint on how leaders should behave so that they can be an uniter and healer. Not only during a crisis but also on a daily basis.
The value of unity.
“Unity is the glue that holds the team together, in part by reducing competitiveness among its players,” writes John Maxwell. “When people share a common goal, they have the mindset of completing each instead of competing against one another.” As a consequence, “they look for ways to make the other person better instead of trying to outshine one another.”
“In addition, unity to the vision increases accountability among teammates,” adds Maxwell. “Dependent upon each other for success, they mutually spur one another on to peak performance.”
“At the same time, when a team is passionate about bringing its vision to fruition, its members know immediately when someone gets off track,” he states. “A healthy team confronts slackers and urges them to pick up the pace or else to find another place to work.”
So, how you can unify and support your team? Start with these nine strategies.
1. Create a joint goal.
“Starting with a unified goal is the first step to resetting the harmony of a disjointed team,” suggests motivational speaker Mandy Yamamoto. For example, beginning a project by “restating previously created goals that have gone wayward.”
“Next, proceed by allowing teammates an opportunity to brainstorm and collaborate to draft additional team goals that they’ll work towards collectively,” Yamamoto adds. “Discuss resources needed, plans for pitfalls, and ways to measure progress.”
“Lastly, set check-in dates,” she says. “By assigning a joint goal to the team, everyone’s focus should be aligned with the mission, working to heal the divide.”
2. Be an open book.
Here’s a biggie. Always be forthright and transparent with your team. Regardless if it’s good or bad, they need to be in the know.
Additionally, this also means sharing both your failures, successes, and struggles. Will this make you vulnerable? Absolutely, but it will build trust and comradery with your team.
As Brené Brown has written, “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”
3. Celebrate team wins.
Successful teams celebrate wins together. Why? It boosts morale, keeps them motivated, and encourages innovation.
While celebrating an accomplishment, like completing a project prior to a deadline, small wins can also add-up. Mainly because it gives everyone a chance to track their progress to see what they’re doing correctly.
At the same time, don’t ignore setbacks or banish blame. Instead, use failure as a learning opportunity. Sometimes learning from your mistakes is the best teacher.
When it comes to celebrating team wins, you don’t have to overthink it or break the bank. Publicly highlight these victories both collectively and individually. And offer rewards that they care about, whether if it’s a gift card, day-off the volunteer, or eat cake.
4. Encourage them to mingle.
Another way to make people feel like they’re a part of a group? Provide opportunities for them to socialize inside and outside of work. Some ideas include:
- Eat together, even if it’s a virtual lunch. Studies have found that groups who do this perform better.
- Simple team-building activities like scavenger hunts or games like two truths and one lie.
- Organize happy hours, BBQs, and parties for holidays and birthdays.
- Learn new skills together by attending online classes or workshops.
- Let everyone share their passions via Speaker’s corners meetings.
- Host hackathons, video game tournaments, or fitness challenges.
- Encourage team members to work on tasks with different colleagues.
- Go on outings, such as a retreat, sporting events, or cleaning up a local park.
5. Have a common foe.
Players for professional sports teams know exactly why their rivals are, think Red Sox/Yankees, Packers/Bears, or Lakers/Celtics. But does your team know who your biggest competitors are? Probably not.
Block out time to let them know not only who you’re facing off against, but also what they’ve been up to. When you do, this fosters an atmosphere of teamwork and rallies them around a common goal. And, it can also push them to come up with innovative ideas.
6. Dismantle conflicts.
“Compassionate leaders engage in awareness of their team and work to prevent patterns of negative behavior from becoming the norm,” notes Benish Shah, Go to market exec, Chief Growth Officer at Loop and Tie. “They employ a key rule: they do not allow behavior that negatively impacts the team.” Examples include “finger-pointing” and “not meeting deadlines that then force others to work longer.”
“Compassionate leaders do not wait until an issue ‘arises’ through a team-member complaint to engage in conflict-resolution,” adds Shah. Instead, “they observe patterns and work to dismantle an issue before they become conflicts.”
As a result, this builds trust. Mainly, “in the team that their problems and concerns about another team member not be met with frustration or dismissiveness,” he states. “It also helps create an environment where a leader is not basing personnel or team decisions on the word of one or two people because they are actively engaged in observing the team.”
7. Embrace differences.
Everyone on your team has unique skills, talents, and experiences. They also have different circadian rhythms and personalities. And, they respond differently to rewards and team events.
How can you accommodate all your diverse talent? Well, give them a platform to showcase hidden talents and backgrounds. For instance, allow team members to prepare a dish that has meaning to their family’s history.
You can also assign tasks that match their skillset. Permit flexible work schedules and make off-hour events optional. And, most importantly, never allow discrimination in the workplace.
8. Hold daily huddles or virtual standups.
“We’ve found that daily huddles (15-minute phone calls) in the morning bring everyone together and unite us,” said bestselling author and President of Star Staffing Nicole Smartt Serres. “We discuss what our top goals are and what we’re working on for the day. We also end the day with an afternoon huddle discussing our accomplishments.”
9. Follow the golden rule.
Finally, lead by example. Primarily treating your team like how you would want to be treated.
For example, let’s say that you had a one-on-one with an employee at 1 p.m. They arrive at your office, but you’re nowhere to be found. You forgot and aren’t even in the office.
You finally arrive 30-minutes late. Is that fair to them? Of course not. That’s distracting their valuable time.
In addition to respecting their time, set realistic deadlines, and treat them kindly. You could do this with a morning greeting, providing healthy snacks, and expressing your gratitude. Moreover, solicit feedback and make yourself available when they have either a personal or professional question or concern.