3 ways Leaders help teams do great work

Steve Jobs, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be satisfied, is to do what you believe is great work”

This quote from Steve Jobs resonates deeply with me. There was a time that I felt that the work that I did was not great. It was accurate, and well received, but I didn’t feel that it made a difference – to the company nor to the people with whom I worked. I didn’t feel heard or seen and I didn’t think that anyone was particularly interested in my ideas ( At times, I was told that no one was interested.)
These experiences set me off on a lifelong journey – to find meaningful work. Work that will pay the bills, work that will leave me with a deep sense of achievement, and work that will make a difference to the people around me. Thus began an exciting, tumultuous journey during which I discovered my happy and sweet spot.
Many leaders have similar stories that explain the careers they enjoy. They can trace the decisions and choices, the roads that they took and the paths that they denied to get to the career/ role that fulfils them on a daily basis.
Leaders, let’s extend this sense of satisfaction to our teams.  As we stand in front of our teams, this week, I ask that we take a look at the faces before us, listen to the comments and observe the relationships, and ask ourselves – Are team members doing great work?
As we harness the creativity and intelligence of our teams in pursuit of our leadership, we can assist team members to do great work, or find the work that they believe is great work.
While it’s a matter of personal choice and how you view your leadership, I ask you to consider with whom do you prefer work? Do you want to work with team members who believe that they are doing great work or those who are working in misery, wishing that they were doing something else or that they were working differently?
I guarantee that it’s much easier to achieve team objectives when the people we work with believe that they are doing great work.  I can share with you three tips that I have successfully used to help team members to find satisfaction in the work they do and to believe that they are doing great work.

  1. Help team members set personal vision – Just as a journey starts with a destination, the personal vision, becomes a compass point that provides guidance.  It simplifies decision making as we are on the path as only one question becomes important – “Will this action help me achieve vision?” Team members can realign personal and professional choices to vision, to discover what great work means to them.
  2. Share your experiences – We learn what is possible from hearing the experiences of others. We can mimic their actions, or we can build on the foundation set or we can be inspired to be bold, to take a risk or to do something different. Leaders note that tone ,timing and intention are important considerations when sharing. This will keep us from boasting or bombarding team members with stories at inappropriate or unwelcome times or pretending that our journey was a simple or easy affair, or that we knew everything at every step of the way. As we share our story we can honestly tell of our failures and successes, what prompted decisions  and the benefits, the fallouts, and the repercussions of the choices we made.
  3. Listen to them – As team members are figuring out the way forward, or establishing their personal vision, they need to talk, to explore, to understand where they are at. They will need a non-judgemental neutral ear that listens from a place of deep compassion and curiosity. The leaders stance during these interactions is critical for the team member to dare to set a personal vision. The leader’s encouraging ear gives the team member the freedom to explore and the confidence to think beyond his current expectations.

Sometimes to find great work the team member’s job may need to change, or they may need to join another team or another organisation. One of the best gifts that a leader can give his team is the belief that great work exists and that they have the means to find it.

How can you help team members do great work?  What will it take for your team members to believe that they are doing great work?

Maxine Attong is the author of two books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead Your Team to Win.  She works with leaders to create more effective and efficient organisations. She is a Keynote Speaker, a Gestalt Organisational  Development Consultant, a Certified Professional Facilitation, Evidence Based Coach and a Certified Accountant.

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