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    Wednesday, November 30, 2016

    How Young Leaders Should Develop Their Team and Themselves

    By Gilang Ardana

    A capacity building plan for a first-time young leader

    So you have been elected as leader, or founded an organization and become a leader. Then, when you have a team, what is the first thing you need to do? 

    For some, that’s actually a million dollar question, especially for young people who are in their first time of being a leader. We have so much articles explaining about how you should lead a team, but maybe only few focus on how you should do that from the early phase of your leadership.  

    For all first-time leaders, this time, let me share you on what I believe you should do. 

    As a leader we are all agree that having a solid team is a key factor to successful outcomes of an organization. Many mistake a great outcome to have a cause-effect relation with your organization’s programs or activities, which is not always true. 

    Your team is what should be in your highest priority.  You cannot have impactful program without a performed team simply because they are the one who running it.  Thus, the first thing you need to do is creating plan on how you can bringing everyone as a solid team, focusing to deliver the best experience for them during your leadership and giving the best you can so they can improve their capacity while serving in the organization. 

    All of those efforts are what I called as Organization’s People Capacity Building program (For the rest of the article, let’s just called it as OPCB). OPCB is not a new thing for the one who have already running an organization. For you as young leader, what you should keep in mind is that OPCB is means to be fun. You need to be creative to craft engaging programs where people can do it with fun. (Make sure your HR department get involved. Brainstorm as many creative ideas as possible with them)

    So what need to be done in drafting OPCB? 
    Let me share it step-by-step by framing it into organization’s journey. 

    Team Building
    In the beginning phase of your leadership, you should understand that your team is not really “a team”. I still prefer to call it as “group of people”. Thus in this phase you need series of efforts to transform them from “a group” to “a team”.

    But wait, why bother with “a group” and “a team”?

    For me, that’s a big deal. In this step, all of your organizations members are entering adaptation process. Whether you realize it or not, they will learn each other’s personalities and try to find their own assessment to other’s personal character. You can let your member do that by themselves but keep in mind that not every person can do that well. If you let it as it is, you are in a risk to have some members avoiding other team members because of false judgment of someone else’s character that possibly not represent the truest of a person. To have this situation in this early phase, I can tell you that it will be quite disadvantaging for your team and overall team’s teamwork. Just remember the first adaptation process is important!

    For this step, you need of what I called as a moderated-process of adaption. This can be a series of team building activities through an informal activities that engage all personnel regardless of position or job description they have within the organization. 

    They are many forms of team building activities, most famous one: Games! 

    Yup, there will be many varieties of team-bonding games that you may choose. Sharing sessions, sharing expectations, personality tests or just simply hangout together will be also options of effective team building activities. You may explore your way to do it, create your own legacy for that! 

    However, please keep in mind that you need to stick to your goal in having team-building activities: Moderated-session of adaptation.

    Let your team to get to know more about others, and moreover, to understand about themselves, their own strengths and weaknesses. Your role there is to facilitate and to internalize your shared value of your organization. If I can recommend you on what values should be shared, there will be four of it. 

    The first value is understanding. It is to make people aware that everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are unique and no one is perfect. Team is formed because the members within it are completing each other.  Second value is honesty, create a healthy environment where you can always reminding each other when something is bothering team’s performance. Give suggestion if someone is struggling with their performance. However please be honest yet with respect, meaning that the way you deliver your critics should be in a good manner with good intent. Remember that critic is for betterment, not humiliation. The third value is teamwork. Your team need to be familiarized not only with appreciation of personal outcome, but also collective outcome. Team is not a group of single-players. The best achievement is the achievement that attained by contribution of every single person on the team, and all of team members are proud to achieve that. 

    Internalize all of those values and adaption process into your selected mode of team building activities. Make sure they understand not only in theory, but also in practice. Please also include a sharing session within the program, provide a session where they can share their expectation toward the other, the organization and their team’s journey ahead. Be honest about of what kind of work environment they should embrace or should avoid. Let them enjoying the sharing sessions as a celebration of their growing unity and solidarity and to celebrate of their transformation from “a group” to “a team”. 

    Team building activities is an actualization of leader strategy to intensify communication between organization’s team members. I’ve been experienced both conducting and joining series of team building activities. In my experience, if you have successful team building activities, team’s loyalty, teamwork and productivity will be improved significantly. 

    On the side note in this early phase. 

    For you, young leader, you should be aware that trust-building is important. 

    I have also a note for you leaders, Trust-building is important. Believe it or not, in the beginning weeks of your leadership, your member will secretly assessed yourself, are you really qualified to be a leader? Are you a leader that they can count on? Are you a typical friendly-partner that they glad to cooperate to?

    During team building activities you need to open yourself to your member of what kind of person you are, what value that you embrace and what are the strengths and weaknesses that you have. Let them understand you and your expectation. In addition, you need also to share the basic purposes and functions of your organization. Share your vision and missions, your strategies to achieve the goals and why it is important to achieve the goal.  Open also channel for team contribution to develop the goal. Provide them with a tangible strategy so they’ll know what they need to do to make all the goals achieved. Trust me, this will be very important as foundation of trust-building to your leadership. 

    Ok, let’s move forward. Previously with team building, your group has transformed themselves to be a team. But it is enough?

    The answer is no. You need team development activities

    Team Development
    In this phase we are not again talking about relation between team members, but we focus on them as individuals for their productivity and skills.  Your goal as leader should not only about achieving organization’s goals, but also providing a great journey to your team member where they can be equipped with new skill and knowledge to improve their capacity. 

    By that, we need a Super Team, it is a condition where your team members achieve both organization goals and effectively develop their capacity. If a team member joined your organization with “A” skill, he needs to have “A-Z” skill when he leave his tenure in organization. 

    As leader, with the help of your HR, you must create your plan for your team member personnel’s development. This step is what I called as ‘Team Development’. Please note that team development should only be done after you have successfully conducted your team-building activities. 

    They are many forms of team development activity that you my exercised. The variety of the activities is really depending on the nature of your organization but can be in a form of trainings with experts, mentoring or coaching.  Please remember that these activities should help your member to answer the most-asked-question: “What do you get from your involvement there?”

    Explore! Create your own benchmark, study more about what skills your team need so you can arrange perfect agenda for your team development. Please make sure your HR also review the plan periodically to see whether new skills are needed to be learned. With this pro-active team development programs, I am sure that your team will transform themselves as ‘Super Team’.
    Note for you. 

    As leader, you need to embrace value of learning. Always position yourself as person who eager to know more, who appreciate every single organizational knowledge as valuable asset for the development of your organization.

    My suggestion is: Research, Master, Share.

    Always do research. Search other similar organization in national and international level and find their uniqueness and strong values.

    Find the successful one, learn how they become success. Adapt it. Find the other who failed, take learning on how they become unsuccessful, and anticipate it. 

    Once you got new points of learning, master it! Research it more and more. Make the most of your free time to master the knowledge. At a time where you feel you have fully understand, share it to your member! You can realize soon on how powerful information is to empower others.  As leader, your integrity and dedication are conveyed by actions, not words. This Research-master-share will help you to maintain that. 

    Extra tips: make your members inspired by your willingness and dedication to do research! Let them inspired to do more self-learning and you’ll soon be partnered with a super-team! This self-initiative will also help much in success of OPCB program. 

    So here’s come the next step. 

    Wait, there’s still one? Team building and development is not enough?
    The answer is yes, we have another step and no, team building and development is not enough.

    Leaders, team building and development are not one-time program. It is a cycle!

    In most experience, you’ll be facing with condition when member’s enthusiasm is decreasing, the teamwork bond is loosen and they lacking focus to achieve goal. Your super team now in risk to be downgraded as “a team” or even “a group” again!

    So what you need to do leader? You need to have a Monitoring and Evaluation mechanisms. 

    Make your own indicators, when your team need another team development session? When they need team building again? 

    Sometimes they may bored with organizational routine, change it a bit!  Make them closer again, conduct small gathering for instance, it may come as possible solution of mid-tenure team building activities to boost their enthusiasm. Another way to do it, you may involve them in projects that not related with their daily routine, make them feel challenged!

    To sum up, this is overview of the overall OPCB cycle:
    Hope this reading gives you powerful insight, leaders! Good luck in creating your own OPCB programs!

    About the Author
    Gilang Ardana, IYF Regional Director Asia & Pacific

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