I could hear the collective (silent) groans of our team.
Another team meeting, another ‘strategy’ session.
It seemed as though every three months we found ourselves back at the same place revisiting our strategy, asking the questions:
- What’s our mission?
- What’s our essential intent?
- Should we adopt a consumer business model selling subscriptions to teachers?
- Should we focus on developing portfolios, reporting, or something else?
For 3 years we were obsessed at myEd with finding the right strategy and approach. We read every new book and tried every new management consulting technique. And for 3 years we were in the wilderness.
And the irony was that we had the answers. I didn’t have the answers, but our team did.
“Most leaders are trying to figure out the right strategy, the right approach. The best leaders are obsessed with empowering the right people. Where do you find the right people? You don’t find them – you build them, develop them and then empower them to lead.”
– Craig Groeschel
Instead of being obsessed with trying to come up with the right strategy, I should have been focused on empowering our team to be leaders.
But how do you empower your team to be leaders?
According to leadership expert Craig Groeschel there are two key currencies to developing a culture of empowerment:
- Communicating with Clarity
- Extending Trust
You need to be clear on what you need to achieve and by when, and then trust your team to work out the how.
Clarity without trust produces fear and inaction.
– Craig Groeschel
While I thought I had clarity on what we needed to achieve at myEd (in hindsight, I didn’t…), at the time I also didn’t create an environment and culture of trust in our team and as a result our progress ground to a halt.
My amazing talented co-founder Yohan Dantan didn’t feel trusted to be able to execute on his goals in marketing, and as a result he lost confidence and felt frozen, unable to take action. No marketing, no leads, no sales…
Trust without clarity, produces work without direction
– Craig Groeschel
As our culture in myEd improved so that we increasingly trusted one another, our productivity as a team grew. We started developing momentum which was exciting!
But we didn’t have clarity. Where were we going? What were we doing?
We were chasing every opportunity and the result, was lots of ‘busy’ work. We were all working hard, but we were treading water. We weren’t really going anywhere.
What changed for us?
Rather than focus on continuing to obsess on finding the right strategy (given this clearly hadn’t been working), I had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t have the answer about what direction we needed to pursue and I had to communicate this to the team. This was difficult to admit, especially when the team was looking to me to provide the answers.
And then, albeit slowly, simultaneously we continued to build trust as team. To trust each other’s expertise, experience, and instinct.
And the result?
We’ve found the answers to the question, “What are we doing, and where are we going?”
The answers were within our team all along.
Daniel Wolf-Clark our genius inventor Head of Product had the insights and answers all along to this question of direction and strategy that had been so elusive for us.
Yohan Dantan our Head of Innovation & Growth found the answers for how to best market and sell what we do.
Neither Daniel or Yohan had been empowered to lead the way.
As a leader, where do you need to improve? Are you obsessing about strategy, or empowering your team?
Craig Groeschel recommends asking yourself the following questions:
(1) What can I do to communicate with clarity more effectively?
- I need to be clear with my team when I don’t know the answers.
- I need to focus on one thing in my communication, simplify and emphasize this. As the Rock says, ‘FOCUS!’
- I need to be more diligent in preparing for meetings to ensure I can communicate more succinctly.
- I need to document more clearly goals, guidelines and next steps, prior, during and after meetings.
(2) Why am I not extending trust to my team more?
- I have high standards. As Craig Groeschel says, if someone can do it 50% of the standard you can, you need to trust them to do it, and invest in them to become better than you.
- My ego. I need to feel smart, knowledgeable and have a desire to be perceived as an expert. Trusting someone else to do something feels like admitting I’m not good at it, I can’t do it, I don’t have the answers.
- I need to communicate explicitly to team members, “I trust you, you got this!”
Are you empowering your team to be leaders? What’s your game plan to improve?
I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments for how you empower your team to be leaders!
Additional Reading & Resources
- Check out Craig Groeschel’s fantastic monthly podcast here
- Here’s Craig’s podcast on Creating an Empowering Culture
Hey, I’m Rowan. I’m the CEO of Art of Smart Education and I’m on a mission to help 1,000,000 young Australians answer the big question, “What am I going to do with my life when I finish school & how do I get there?”