What Do You Focus On?

Tolerating an ignorant, arrogant genius in your team is very costly to teamwork. Don’t do it.

All the teams I have led throughout my career, I have always inherited them. They were not my own selection of team members from the beginning. I have replaced team members when people had moved on, but I was not the original line manager who selected the teams from scratch.

However, I was still able to take these teams and achieve great results. I was able to lead them through change, and help them to develop. This is what I love to do with new teams. I like to challenge myself to try and take these teams to do better, and be better.

The leadership principles that I share through my articles, I learned them when leading these teams. I honed these principles through 10 years of hard work. I am very passionate to discuss them, and share them with you.

1. It Can Be Tough At The Beginning

At the very beginning when I started my career in leadership, my role was an engineering production manager in Scotland. It was a rotating shift, so we were not leading the same team every time. At first the teams did not like me at all. They did not like change, and bringing in a new line manager was change for them.

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They saw me as an outsider, even though I worked with the same company as they did. It was clear to me with some of the teams that the previous line manager who I replaced, did not lead them well. They didn’t like him either. There was tension even within the teams, and some team members didn’t like each other.

They didn’t even like their job. But, I was determined to try and change this. I saw this a challenge and I wanted to make that difference.

As you can imagine, it is not an easy task to try to lead a team who doesn’t like you from the very beginning, or don’t even like each other. If you were to take over a new team tomorrow, how would you start? Would you want to make a fast start and hit the ground running? Or, would you want to take your time with them?

As the leader, you are fully responsible for every person on the team. So, if you cannot lead the team through change and make a success of them, then you are responsible. If you can lead the team through change and achieve great results, then you are responsible.

However, you must share the credit with the team when things go well, and accept responsibility when things don’t go well. That is your job. Not a lot of people can take on new teams that are similar to what I started with. Especially if you are an insecure leader, and only focus on yourself.

You would not have a chance with them. The only people who can lead these teams are highly effective leaders. They are the only leaders who can make that difference, lead through change and achieve great results.

2. How To Be Leaser Focussed

So, how did I start my leadership role with a team I had inherited? I needed to be laser focussed, and not be distracted. My plan was to communicate/connect with the team, build relationships, build trust, and help develop them. What did I focus on?

I focussed on the team’s character, and I also focussed on my own character. For me to achieve what I wanted, character was how I was going to start. Then, more longer term as a team my aim was to build a development plan for each team member.

I would give them the opportunity to improve the plan and make changes. I would help them to validate their progress, and then decide on their next steps.

The ambition to develop the team and focus on building up character was a new change for the team, so they were resistant at first. This was something they had never done before, so they were a bit fearful. It was my job to accept the responsibility to turn this around, and help the team to embrace this change.

I knew what to do, but they did not. It was my job to teach them so they can start to work on themselves to develop.

When I took over the team at Siemens in London, we were working with Heathrow trains. It was difficult at first, but within a few months of leading the team, performance of the Heathrow trains improved by 30%. The team were given the credit for this, and from then on performance kept improving.

When you focus on developing a team’s and your own character, you have to be very deliberate with it. The principles I am sharing that are based on building character will help you in doing this. They are the same for every person you will ever work with, and they apply in every single industry throughout the world.

3. What Kind Of Development To Give Your Team

Now that I was focussed on character, what was I actually going to do? I started with leadership development of the team. Not because I wanted them to be good leaders of teams, I wanted them to be good leaders of themselves. This was not about title, positions or anything like that. I wanted the team to start off thinking differently.

I wanted them to understand that for the whole team to be successful, then every team member (including me) had a part to play in that success. I helped them to look within themselves instead of looking outward, and blaming others. To take responsibility for themselves, and their own development.

By doing this, I was showing them how much I cared, and how important each team member was to me. For the team to succeed, we needed to trust each other, and build strong relationships. This was a good start, and they did start to think differently. They started to think like a highly effective leader would think.

I want to help you, so that you can help your team change their thinking. I want you and your team to think like highly effective leaders now. This will especially help your team because they are not in leadership positions. This will set you and your team on the path to transformation, and success.

Your success will be determined to how successful your team are. So, this site is designed to help you to become successful, by making your team successful first. Use my articles and other future materials as this will help you when you are trying to grow your team into leaders.

I write all of my articles for very specific reasons and are aimed at leaders, team members, and anyone who wants to learn leadership skills.

4. Have you Ever Considered A Book Study?

I know of some highly effective leaders who have purchased leadership books for their teams, and took them through a book study. A book study is a great way to start your journey to becoming a highly effective leader.

If you decide to do a book study, go through the book individually first and underline their key points. That’s what the best teams do, and it doesn’t matter if it is with my book, or another leadership book. So, when the book study starts, every person will have things they want to discuss.

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Actions will be allocated to each person, and then the book study ends.

As humans, we actually learn more from listening to people tell us their thoughts and perceptions on issues. We do not learn by listening to someone tell us what to do, or tell us what we should be learning.

Book studies are very powerful, and is a great model for developing your team. It also helps with building trust, developing relationships, and increasing your influence.

How much experience we have is not as important as how competent we are at doing the job. Focus on character, competence and then experience.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

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All the best,

Tom (Lead, Grow, Influence)

10 thoughts on “What Do You Focus On?

  1. You have provided awesome suggestions on what to focus on as a team leader, and I must admit that is a great responsibility and can be overwhelming and stressful for many people. So how did you develop your leadership skills, and how do you manage the stress that goes with being a leader of a team?

    Jeff

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Thank you for your comment, and thank you for your question. It’s great that you are still engaging.

      Leadership is overwhelming and can be stressful, and it is up to a leader to learn how to manage that stress as much as they can, along with help from others.

      I developed my leadership skills by working on myself every day, and by observing the leaders I worked with. But, most of all I put into practice the leadership principles I learn each day from reading books, and working with other leaders. You need to be working on your leadership and personal growth every single day. Whether that is through reading, courses, and working with your team by leading by example.

      If there is anything further that you need then please keep asking.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Hello Tom,

    Thank you for sharing your leadership experience.
    I especially like this sentence “If you can lead the team through change and achieve great results, then you are responsible.”

    I agree. It is not easy for people in a team that was not led well to go through change with a new leader but it is possible to do so. We have to show them how the team can be better and achieve the success together.

    Great post, Tom. You are such a great role model!

    Cheers,
    Ferra

    1. Hi Ferra,

      Thank you for your comment, and thank you for your kind words.

      You are right, if you lead the team through change, then you are responsible. However, delegating that responsibility out through the team will improve the morale of the team even more.

      Showing the team, and leading by example is the only way to be a real highly effective leader. Being a role model for your people is exactly what leadership is.

      Thank you again, I really do appreciate your engagement.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. The skills you demonstrated as a leader is exemplary and I think many people in the capacity of leading need to learn these skills. Servant leadership skills should be taught to aspiring leaders because a number of leaders use their authority for personal gains and to manipulate those they work with. Listening is key, without sharing perceptions and thoughts, moving numbers can be difficult.
    When the numbers go up, like you said, the team should be praised and acknowledged because without their effort, there is nothing a leader can do.

    1. Hi Bolupe,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found the article valuable.

      Appreciate your kind words, and you are right that aspiring leaders need to be learning every single day. They should also be practicing what they are learning, and working on themselves every single day. I have worked with many leaders who manipulate and are only “in it” for themselves.

      To be able to listen as a leader, is far more important than being able to talk the talk. Praising your team is so important too, and not taking all the credit yourself.

      You have made some great points here, thank you for taking everything in like a leader.

      Please do return and keep engaging.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. Hi, Tom, thanks for sharing this post! I love how you pointed out the importance of developing characters! Indeed, if you want to lead a team, developing good characters is a must to build a connection with each team member!

    1. Hi Kelly,

      Thank you for your comment. Really happy you found the article useful.

      You are so right, character development is fundamental when developing as a highly effective leader. Connection too means a lot more than communication, and learning how to connect is something we should do and work on every single day.

      Please do return and keep engaging.

      All the best to you,

      Tom

  5. Hi Tom,

    Love this article! So many leaders on power trips these days, all them need to read this! Can tell you’re a true leader with you wanting your team to be successful.

    Stay well!

    1. Hi Sammi,

      Thank you for your comment. I am so happy you found the article valuable, and your recommendation of other leaders reading this is amazing.

      I have and still do work with leaders who are on power trips. It is difficult to work with sometimes, and I do my best to help them realise the effect they are having on their people. If they keep behaving in this way, then they are not going to make their team successful, just like you have said.

      Keep returning and keep engaging.

      All the best,

      Tom

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