It’s one thing to have an environment where an individual’s initiative is not discouraged. Where if your team member goes out on their own to implement a new idea, they are not punished.
It’s quite another to foster an environment where initiative is perceived as desired. To make a place where your team is cultivated, strengthened, encouraged, rewarded, to invest yourself deeply in the success of your team.
I think about team culture quite a bit, being on two teams myself – one as a leader, one as a team member. Having the benefit of both managing and simultaneously being managed, you get a different perspective on your own theories of leading a team. You see both sides of the coin, you live both sides of the coin.
This week, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to cultivate an environment where people are encouraged to solve their own problems, where they feel safe, but are consistently challenged to learn and grow and try new things. Where failure to succeed the first time results in encouragement, not punishment.
Without insincere superficial praise, without masking real problems with new distractions every week – how do you keep a team challenged and encouraged to go out and experiment a little?
How do you get a team beyond having to point out to them that no one is stoping them from trying that new idea, to a place where, when an idea occurs, the top of mind response is to feel encouraged to try it?
That’s a big swing. One environment is all about fear of risk, fear of punishment and failure. The other environment is embracing the possibility of failing, recognizing it as an opportunity to learn, and moving forward fearlessly.
Which are you creating with your actions? How do you react when someone on your team fails? What are you doing to foster and reward those that take initiative?