“A river is easier to channel than to stop.” ― Brandon Sanderson
Nothing can be as frustrating as a brilliant leader, with a gifted team who’s “all in” on the fulfillment of a compelling vision, stuck dead in their tracks. The size of our organization matters little, numerous meetings, and endless memos will do nothing to help us unless we can find a way to gain some traction.
Without momentum, the largest ships on the open seas are dead in the water, and the most powerful locomotives lie still on the rails. Much of the time the problem isn’t with the ships or the locomotives, the problem is what lies in front of them.
I heard it said that a locomotive moving at 55 mph could break through a steel-reinforced concrete wall five feet thick and keep moving. That same locomotive standing still can be kept from moving forward by wedging a three-inch block on the rails in front of its driving wheel!
As the captain of an ocean liner or the engineer of a locomotive, it’s the responsibility of the leader to size up the situation and solve the problem. The real problem behind your team’s inability to move forward is the lack of traction that allows you to build momentum.
I’ve lead teams with momentum working for us as well as against us. I can tell you that momentum is a leader’s best friend. With momentum things are more fun, you look better than you are, and everyone wants to pitch in. Without momentum, leadership is difficult unless you understand how to gain traction.
5 Steps for Gaining Traction to Move your Team Forward
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Peter Drucker
- Develop a “Can-Do” Culture (remove the 3-inch block from the rails)
- Understand that an organization’s culture drives the vision and that vision doesn’t change an organization Culture does.
- Always Go for the Buy-In by encouraging creativity and rewarding good Ideas.
- Lead by example demonstrating what you intend to create.
- Competency is empowering Complacency demeans the team
- Celebrate and reward those who go the extra mile
- Establish Clear expectations with Clear accountability
- Be sure each member of your team knows what they’re responsible for
- Set the standards for what is and isn’t acceptable conduct
- Explain what work ethic you’re looking for
- People will harder and take responsibility when they feel respected
- Model and Celebrate Transparency
- Develop yourself so you can offer assistance to any member of your team
- In all sincerity let your team know how important they are to you
- Be faithful in adding value to them they’ll be more productive
- If you connect with their hearts, they’ll use their heads
- Become Solution Oriented
- Enlist their help in problem-solving instead of assigning blame
- Know that problems are a matter of perspective
- Every problem has a solution
- Never be ashamed to admit you don’t have an answer
- There’s always more than one way to solve a problem
- Release the Untapped Abilities of your Team
- Recognize emerging leaders and work with them
- Allow them to Lead – assign projects they can handle
- Allow them to Learn – Give them space to fail
- Make yourself available – mentor them
- Give them Credit for the Wins – Allow them to shine