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Five Intentional Steps to Work on Your Team

Five Intentional Steps To Work On Your Team &Raquo; Img 1385 300X225 1I spent a good portion of my week in Austin speaking at the Texas Secondary School Principal conference. I was quite inspired by the awesome school leaders in the state, and the similarities that we see across our country right now. While most of us are dealing with legislative overreach, greater teacher mobility than at possibly any other time in our history, this group of principals came together to grow, to invest in themselves and their teams, and to celebrate the end of their collective school year.

I had a lot of conversation with principals, assistant principals, and district level leaders. One assistant principal asked me, after sharing their team’s reality, what I think they needed to do as a top priority this coming year. What she asked about, as did so many others, was about really one key element…for leadership teams to be truly effective they must be on the same page. Not just simply the principal telling them what the focus will be for the year, rather teams need to be ensuring they are working from a shared set of values, a common shared vision, and a place of genuine trust.

Five Intentional Steps To Work On Your Team &Raquo; Img 1319 300X300 1How do you get your leadership team thoroughly aligned and working collectively toward a common goal? It is something that can be accomplished but not quickly or haphazardly. This week on the blog, I am sharing five steps to getting your leadership team firing on all cylinders.

  1. Develop collective team norms – this might seem a bit basic, but many of the teams that I work with didn’t have any set guidelines or norms around how they met, made decisions, or engaged in open dialogue. The work of Garmston and Wellman with the 7 Norms of Collaboration may be a great starting point for teams to examine their current meeting practices. Once norms are established, hold each other to the expectation that the norms are followed and utilized in all meeting situations.
  2. Identify shared team values – the best leaders are ones who lead from their values. They identify what it is they are really looking for and have a laser like focus on those values. It is important for leaders to have that clarity, but I’d argue it is equally important to ensure the team has that same level of clarity. I am not saying that the team needs to abandon individual values, but each team member should be quite clear on a shared focus and belief.
  3. Build trust through conflict – it is one thing to say you trust the people around you. But do you have productive conflict with them? Does the team you are working with openly disagree, push each other’s thinking, and ultimately come to a decision that all will support regardless their personal feelings? If the answer is yes, then you are clearly crushing it from a team perspective. Most teams, however, tend to avoid conflict. This might happen through deferring to the higher ‘ranking’ member of the team, giving up and allowing the loudest member of the team to get their way, or totally avoiding any topic that might lead to disagreement. Lean into collective team norms, allow the uncomfortable to happen, and agree that once a decision is made that the entire team will support the decision as if it was their top choice.
  4. Schedule regular team time during the year – I realize that most teams have a scheduled meeting weekly, or a daily check in, or whatever. What I am referring to here is the allocation of time for the team to work on the team. This is when the balcony leadership is so important. Get the team to take a step back and evaluate progress toward team goals, rate current levels and efforts to work in alignment with shared values, and any other areas the team feels need addressing. This is not the time for complaining about staff members, talking about current events or situations of the day, be quite intentional about this being at a different altitude than the regular day to day work.
  5. Share your work with staff around you – nothing will hold a group more accountable than making their intentions public knowledge. Tell your staff what your focus is, update them regularly, and encourage them to ask you (as a team) about your progress. This can be a very inspiring step and can move staff to potentially do similar work with their students, departments, or teams they coach. When we are willing to put ourselves out there for public consumption, to be vulnerable and open, we can genuinely grow and improve.

Five Intentional Steps To Work On Your Team &Raquo; Img 1426 300X200 1Growing as a team takes time. Developing trust and shared accountability is an investment of the heart, the brain, and is for the long haul. If your team is wanting to take their work to the next level, I recommend these five steps as a starting point.

Have a #RoadToAwesome week


Tune in this Sunday to “Leaning into Leadership” where my guest is…well, me! Yeah, this week in honor of Father’s Day my daughter is taking over the host duties and putting me on the hot seat.

Five Intentional Steps To Work On Your Team &Raquo; Okay 300X300 1Want to get a free copy of my awesome eBook Walk in Your Purpose? Click here

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Darrin Peppard Dr. Darrin Peppard

Dr. Darrin Peppard is an author, leadership coach, consultant, and speaker focused on organizational culture and climate, and growing emerging leaders. Darrin is the best-selling author of the book Road to Awesome, and is the host of the Leaning into Leadership podcast. As a ‘recovering high school principal’, Darrin shares strategies and lessons learned from 26 years in public education to help leaders gain clarity, find joy in their work, and walk in their purpose.

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