Highly effective teams are led by those who are not only committed to a cause of action, but also committed to those they have the honor of leading. Not only do they encourage creativity, they facilitate the learning process for their team. It is easy to tell people how to fix a procedure, but to gain buy-in and ownership the team has to identify issues that impede the process. Once issues are identified, they can brainstorm to find the best cause of action for improvement.
So how do you as a leader encourage this type of commitment? The first and most important function you have is to build trust relationships with each of your employees. This is easy to do with employees who demonstrate your same work ethic, have similar backgrounds, belief systems, or shared interests. It is more difficult to build trust with those that you don’t share common experiences with, but these relationships are the most crucial to build. This starts with doing what you say you will do, all the time. You have to be present in all interactions; you have to value their input. Sometimes it even means modifying your own behavior to accommodate their needs. You have to ensure that every interaction you have with every one of your staff members leaves them feeling respected and appreciated. You have to be willing to defend your team when things go wrong, and celebrate when things go well.
Everyone on your team is employed for a reason, but that in itself doesn’t drive commitment. Commitment is built when employees trust who they work for, that their leader has their best interests at heart, and that their input and contributions are valued and appreciated. Gaining trust is a slow process, but essential to building high reliability teams.
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