An SW+A Case Study on helping a Senior Leader build a better self, and better team.

By Manoj Raheja

Did the headline get you?  Don’t worry – I’m not judging 😉  Recently we had the opportunity to run a workshop to help a Senior Leader build a better team.   So why is this a big deal?  Well…what if I told you to achieve this you had to get naked in front of your employees?  Not literally of course…but definitely figuratively.  This leader had to leave the room while his team was facilitated through a process where they discussed his strengths, weaknesses, things they want to know about him, what he needs to know about his team, etc.  Open Kimono!

The workshop was specially tailored to make it comfortable for team members to provide candid feedback.  One of the ways we did this was to provide an analogy of a parent and child.  You have great hopes for your child (Senior Leader).  You want them to grow up to be a kind human being and be successful in whatever they endeavor.  And therefore, you (Team Members) should not be afraid to give them tough love, and tell it like it is.  The feedback is also constructed such that if this leader can address an area – here is how it can help team members perform even better and ultimately unlock another gear for the total team.   I won’t get into the details other than to say the session achieved its desired objectives.

So why was this leader brave enough to do this?

  • Maybe he believes in the true notion of team
  • Maybe because he recognized that making yourself vulnerable is a strength, not a weakness
  • Maybe he believes in getting better as an individual, so they can be better as a team
  • Maybe it’s because he has servant leadership qualities (see below for 10 questions on if you demonstrate servant leadership by Martin Zwilling – you can read the full article here.

So what do you think?  Feel like getting naked?

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If you recognize yourself in most of the following questions, you may not be another Gandhi, but you are well on your way to becoming a servant leader.

  • Do team members believe you want to hear their ideas and will value them?
  • Does your team believe you have a strong awareness of what is going on and why?
  • Does everyone follow your direction because they want to, or because they have to?
  • Do others on your team communicate their ideas and vision for the organization when you are around?
  • Do people believe that you are committed to helping them develop and grow?
  • Do people come to you when the chips are down, or when something traumatic has happened in their lives?
  • Does everyone have confidence in your ability to anticipate the future and its consequences?
  • Does the team believe you are leading the organization to make a real difference in the world?
  • Do people believe you are willing to sacrifice your own self-interest for the good of the team?
  • Does everyone feel a strong sense of community in the company you lead?