As autumn continues its path, the leaves fall down from the trees and cover the lawns and driveways, forming a slippery blanket. It becomes difficult to walk securely over the surfaces. One’s shoes can get easily stuck in between the leaves and may even cause a sensation of feeling unbalanced. Although nature is taking its time completing its journey into the next season of winter, we may be forced to trample through mounds of leaves for a while. It can be unsettling or we can actually do something about it. We can take out our rakes and blowers and clear away an opening to regain our footing.
Similarly, a leader who feels they are letting their team down or falling short of their goals and purpose can be upsetting. This individual may be the team leader or a team member. It doesn’t matter. What is important is that they are not paving a clear way for a timely completion of their assignment or presentation. They are instead allowing the blanket of leaves to remain on the ground scattered and untouched. They are in fact falling down on the job and leaving their team exposed. If they were just willing to tackle their challenges and get the help they may need, a totally different outcome may result.
Here are six ways a leader may be falling down on their team:
1. Relationships with Team Members Are Taking A Dive
Working remotely and being on virtual calls all day can impact how we connect with our colleagues. For some leaders it is more unnatural to function in a remote situation as they are unable to speak up and share ideas in a meaningful way. These leaders may even be grieving not seeing their team on a daily basis and wishing they could have better catch-up time with everyone. These feelings may result in disengagement and disconnection.
Reverse this: Set up one-on-one time with co-workers and schmooze over coffee. Build in time to connect with the people who matter.
2. Workload Keeps Growing/Missed Deadlines
Another clue that we may be letting our team down is that we see our workload constantly increasing. In fact we may not be meeting deadlines and then deliverables are being pushed off. We might not be completing our assignments in a timely way because we are waiting for information or obsessing on our end product.
Reverse this: Reach out to teammates to send you their data in a more efficient and timely way. Explain you need their part to complete your piece. Stop being a perfectionist.
3. Communication Seems To Be Unclear
Are you having trouble saying what you want to say so you can be heard clearly? This can happen when leaders notice that team members are not listening to them or understanding their ideas. We can even feel overlooked or left out of team decisions. Being an effective communicator is another way to prevent letting your team down.
Reverse this: Prepare what you want to share ahead of time and choose non-judgmental and positive language. Make sure your facial expressions and body language especially on zoom calls are consistent with your words. Show excitement.
4. Lost Sight of The Purpose of The Project
Leaders can fall down when they forget the “why” of their assignment. We can get lost in our routines and work without realizing there is a larger picture. When we don’t feel we are performing meaningful tasks, we can put our projects on hold.
Reverse this: Identify “why” a project is important. Understand completely what the deliverable will accomplish and how it will help dissolve a customer’s pain point.
5. Energy Levels Are Plummeting
Working from their homes, leaders can have energy level swings throughout the day. However, when we notice that we are continuously exhausted we are probably not be performing at our highest levels. Our energy levels drop when we are feeling drained.
Reverse this: Recognize when you are at a higher or lower energy level. When you are feeling de-energized, stop, step back and breathe. Take a walk, even if it is around the house. Call someone. You may need a people “pick-me-up”.
6. Thinking About Leaving the Team
The final way leaders may be letting their teams down is when they are focusing on their next job move. This can happen when we are feeling lost on our team or not appreciated or valued. Although we have to own our career trajectory, if all we can think about is figuring out how to leave our current teams, then we will never be able to share our best self.
Reverse this: Be honest with yourself why you want to move on from your team. Does your boss not appreciate you? Are you feeling invisible? Have a conversation about why you want to make an exit. Maybe there is a better opportunity awaiting you. And in that case, go for it.
How have you let your team down? How did you reverse yourself?