Three Ways to Have Your Team’s Back

have your team's backAs a leader, there are going to be times when you’ve got to go to bat for your team—or someone on it. In fact, this is an activity that’s expected in great leadership, one that’s rooted in good values, including courage, which as you know is a vital leadership trait. If your team is getting unfairly attacked or you notice a particular employee being disparaged, never turn a blind eye or your back on your people. Instead, recognize that such a situation is an opportunity to do what’s right while demonstrating a sense of commitment to your team. After all, it’s a moment of truth in terms of your leadership capacity and character—one that sends the message to your people that they matter and you will be there for them in times of trouble and need.

When your people or an individual team member is in trouble, here are some points to keep in mind:

Know when it’s time to take action. In our hypercritical, litigious world, it seems like attacks are out of control. And to a certain degree, the people you lead need to have thick skin, be able to stand up for themselves, and manage conflict and challenges on their own. But if criticism or accusations of any kind are impacting morale, performance, productivity and results, you’ve got to take action—and the more swiftly the better. In a competitive world, you don’t have the luxury of just hoping problems will go away if you ignore them. You have to face them and manage them effectively, particularly if the threat to your people is real and it’s impacting the health and wellbeing of your organization and those who work in it. Standing up for your team, particularly when you see these measurables are being negatively impacted, is one way to do this.

Learn to fight right. Fighting right is all about how you manage problems and conflict. And this often boils down to using your emotional intelligence while delivering winning solutions that send the message you’ve got your team’s back. But when your company, its people or even just one person in your organization is being attacked unfairly, it can be really hard to not become emotional, personalize what’s happening, and lash back at whoever is doing the attacking. But don’t give in. Even when you’re facing a highly personal situation, avoid the temptation to throw cheap shots and, instead, focus on the real problem at hand (such as the actual point of disagreement) and not the person causing it. In addition, don’t bring unnecessary people into the debate or discussion at hand…this will only fuel the fire. Use the resources you need to address the assault. And finally, as we talk about in MAP’s book, “The Disciplined Leader,” keep that “what’s the goal?” mindset and consistently check to make sure all actions you take support whatever goal you’ve set in regard to problem-solving and sticking up for your people.

Manage “trauma” with care. When your team or an individual gets unfairly attacked, you’ll find that people will respond to it in different ways. Some will be able to shrug off any damage done and move on more easily while others will need additional time to process it all and heal. Expect this, building in ways to manage these differences and remaining open, available and flexible to the fact that business might not return to “normal” right away. Follow your gut on how to handle this and communicate with your people for the answers—there is no surefire answer here. Again, the key is to understand people’s differences and respect them. It may not seem like it at the time, but this is one of the fastest ways to get your people realigned and back on track, working, being productive and performing to the best of their abilities.

What’s the fallout if you fail to stand up for your people?

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