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Step back to move your work teams forward

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in Leaders & Managers,Team Building

Congratulations! You’ve been appointed to lead a new team. You rehearse your welcome speech, prepare detailed notes for the first meeting and make sure you articulate clear objectives. Now relax.

Don’t worry so much about what you’re going to say. The key to team leadership is knowing how to pull back and let the group gel. Follow these tips:

• Withhold your opinion. Train yourself to probe and listen to the group before you announce your thoughts, biases or concerns. You may find that the team’s insights are a better springboard for discussion than what you intended to talk about.

Beware: Many managers find it counterintuitive to keep quiet. However, it gives the team a chance to speak freely without fear of reprisal or raising the “wrong” topic.

• Let teammates respond to each other. Don’t over-facilitate a discussion by acknowledging every comment and then calling on the next speaker. It’s fine to keep quiet and let group members bounce ideas off one another. In fact, some of the best brainstorming occurs when the leader fades into the background.

• Stop spoon-feeding. If team members ask you questions, don’t feel obliged to give instant answers. Let them seek their own counsel.

Example: You’re leading a discussion about value-added services HR can provide. You’re asked, “What services should we focus on?” Don’t limit creativity with a detailed answer. Instead, say, “That’s up to you.”

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