Leader-to-Leader Advice on Managing People
Learn more about developing, leading and managing people from this Q&A session with Roam Buckhead General Manager, Chad Turner.
Q: What lessons have you have learned from managing people?
A: If I could only choose one lesson, it would be to lead with a developmental bias. As a leader, it is your responsibility to identify the areas where you can give your team the freedom to try things on their own and fail. If you view leadership as your team getting things done for you or working to accomplish your own personal vision, you limit what can be achieved. Failing doesn’t have to be a total loss. There are certain scenarios in which you can give people the freedom to fail so that it serves as a development opportunity. In the words of General Patton, “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” Leading with a developmental bias is allowing your team to weigh-in on decisions and have buy-in. Team members are motivated and empowered because they’re contributing to the overall goal and/or vision rather than feeling restricted by dictatorship. However, there are times when I want to interject myself into every single situation. It is difficult to relinquish some of that control and allow my team to surprise me. But in order to actually lead an effective team and accomplish what I want to accomplish, I have to allow my team the freedom to accomplish things for me. And that takes a lot of trust in your people and confidence in yourself.
Q: How do you platform each individual on your team for success so that they can contribute to the mission and/or vision of the company?
A: It boils down to 3 simple focuses—clarifying, positioning and stewarding. Clarifying means that on a weekly basis, you are clarifying a vision that everybody on your team is headed towards. Positioning is identifying the strengths of each person on your team and placing them in a role to be most effective. Stewarding is being disciplined with your personal time in order to model how your team should steward their own time. It’s important to set a system of measurables in place for each role, so team members can answer this question for themselves at the end of each day—“Did I or did I not contribute to the mission of the organization today?”
Q: You’ve identified that the individual roles of a team are critical but what about the team dynamics? In what ways do you strive to foster a positive team environment?
A: My favorite line from Roam’s manifesto is- believe the best in each other, want the best for each other and expect the best from each other. That just feels like a community that is really rooting for one another, but it also doesn’t mean that we allow each other to coast along. There is a level of accountability that comes with such a statement, and that is the type of environment I want our team to be marked by. In order to achieve this type of environment, I believed it would take meeting on a weekly basis. Every team member had a similar seat at the table and a similar voice in the conversation regardless of their job title, salary and talents. Those meetings are where we really began to see everyone finding their voice and the opportunity to contribute. Regardless if their individual ideas and suggestions are implemented, each team member walks out of that meeting feeling heard. I believe part of Roam’s success is attributed to the relationships we have with our team members, our comradery, our ability to believe the best in, want the best for and expect the best from each other. And this spills over into the way we treat everyone that walks in our doors.
Q: What foundation must be in place in order for leaders to create the environment of accountability and comradery you just referenced?
A: According to Patrick Lencioni, one of the five dysfunctions of a team is the absence of trust. Trust is built through transparency. At this stage in our business, I feel the freedom to be transparent with my team, and I think that has really attributed to our engagement. My team members know that if I’m asking them to do something but don’t have full context right at that moment, they trust that I have their best interest in mind. This trust doesn’t just happen over time by delegating tasks though. It takes me knowing their spouses, friends and how they give their time outside of work. Building trust on each of those levels builds up this relational capital that I am able to cash in on. That sounds more transactional than it should be, but that’s really how it happens.
Q: What advice do you have for managers?
A: There is a temptation for leaders to think they must be the smartest and have the most expertise. Some of the best preforming organizations are often led by leaders who go unnamed or are unknown. It was the ability of those leaders to inspire a team to accomplish a vision that led to their ultimate success. The reality is that the smartest person in the room could accomplish a lot. But if the smartest person in the room could inspire an entire them, then they could accomplish even more. That’s what a leader is meant to do. Not to be the smartest person in the room. It’s to inspire everyone else on their team, and position them in a place where they can be most effective to accomplish the goal. Everyone knows you can’t do it alone.