Modeling the Way: 3 Methods to Encourage Your Team to Work Toward the Same Goal

With the new year underway, this is the season of sales meetings, kick-off events and ramp-up sessions. All the strategic planning completed in December culminates in extensive lists and project plans that well-appointed task teams and cohorts will tackle to achieve a particular goal. However, these team members will also have to complete their day-to-day tasks on top of these new initiatives. How can you keep them motivated to give 100% in both areas?

The simple answer is, “Model the way.” What does this mean for an organization?

The concept of modeling the way came from authors of The Leadership Challenge, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. Over three decades ago, Kouzes and Posner set out to discover what great leaders do when they are at their personal best, and they collected thousands of stories from ordinary people describing the experiences they recalled when asked to think of a peak leadership experience.

Their Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model provides a clear, evidence-based path to achieving the extraordinary for individuals, teams, organizations, and communities. It turns the abstract concept of leadership into easy-to-grasp practices and behaviors that can be taught and learned by anyone willing to step up and accept the challenge to lead.

“Model the Way” is the first phase in the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model. It encourages leaders to set interim goals, permitting people can achieve small wins as they work toward larger objectives, because the prospect of complex change can overwhelm people and stifle action.

Here are three methods to maintain collaboration within your teams:

  1. Unravel bureaucracy when it impedes action

When you track every project deliverable as if it were on a checklist, you impede on your staff’s ability to complete the overarching project. Instead of reserving meetings as the time to flip through a checklist, reduce bureaucracy and focus the team on the important tasks. When you have fewer major tasks, these become higher priorities for a team to complete.

  1. Put up signposts when people are unsure of where to go (or how to get there)

Once you’ve identified a project you want your team to complete, it’s not enough to tell them, “Learn how we can achieve this goal faster.” You’ll get the best results if you create very specific objectives that include the action desired, a deadline, and the method of evaluation, which clearly shows how your team can be successful at a task. It can also be helpful to include why each task is important, which will help keep your team members motivated and feel like they are working toward something worthwhile.

  1. Create opportunities for victory

Progress scorecards can be an excellent way to highlight achievements along the way for long-term projects. Highlighting significant progress or the reaching of a milestone does not have to be a big affair, but it allows the group to take time to reflect, learn and celebrate their journey together.

Now it’s your turn. What have you done in your organization to “model the way” for your staff to achieve their goals? Share with us in the comments section, and you may be featured in our next newsletter!

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