Your team is everything.
But it only takes a few wrong words, ill-timed accusations, or misplaced assumptions to kill an otherwise healthy team. Many leaders sabotage their team culture without intending to.
Here are seven best practices to sustain a healthy KidMin team:
1. Ask before you accuse
Accusation is usually quiet. It’s dangerously subtle. It comes in the form of gossip, grumbling, or a carefully placed prickly comment. A culture of accusation can kill your team. Rather than accuse, invite conversation. By asking others for clarity, you’re saying, “I trust you. I value our relationship. And I’m not giving doubt a foothold.” That kind of leadership is powerful.
2. Guard your heart
The clearest water comes from the deepest well. And like a well, your best leadership comes from deepest part of you. But keeping that well clean can be hard. Proverbs 4:23 reads: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” The word for “keep” is used elsewhere for imprisonment. The idea is to be sensitive. Vigilant. Ever-watchful. Staying conscious of what’s flowing in and out of your heart will allow you to continue to lead at your best.
3. Practice candor
Candor can be defined as: “the quality of being open and honest in expression.” If you like something, say it. If you disagree with someone, say so. Encourage others to do the same. Building a team culture that prizes candor will allow opinion to be productive. A point of clarity: Being candid isn’t the same thing as being brash. Candor doesn’t just fling its opinion out there without thought to others’ feelings. Instead, candor creates a safe place. Candor is preceded by trust and followed by affirmation.
4. Smile or cry—just engage
It may sound basic, but your body language communicates your intentions. If you look like you’re trying to win an argument, you’ll soon find yourself in one. If you look like you’re trying your best to listen, understand, and be sensitive, you’ll find that your team will respond. Teams make lasting decisions are made when empathy is a guest the table.
5. Drive toward confrontation
Nobody likes confrontation. We’re afraid to question. We’re afraid others might take our challenge personally. So we keep quiet, letting uncertainty fester. Beneath our fear of confrontation is really a desire to understand. But as long as we’re afraid of confrontation, that desire just comes out sideways. The truth is that confrontation has five stages:
Inviting: “I want to know what you think.”
Clarifying: “I want to understand more.”
Questioning: “I want to know why you think that.”
Challenging: “I’m not sure I agree.”
Confronting: “I disagree.”
The confrontation process only gets ugly when we bypass the first four stages and find ourselves in the ring with boxing gloves on. We’re often just too cowardly to speak up early in the game. But if you learn to view confrontation as a healthy process for understanding, you’ll rarely end up getting knocked out.
6. Absorb blame
Teams can collapse. Goals can go unmet. When failure happens and blame rears its head, many leaders are quick to point the finger. Our tendency to shift the blame reveals our deeper fear of exposure. “What will they think of me if I screw up?” “What if I’m wrong?” “Will I still be able to lead with influence?” Remember: People aren’t inspired by perfection. Perfection creates distance. They’re inspired by honesty and courage. Don’t make excuses. Don’t shift blame. Eagerly own your mistakes.
7. Deflect praise
There’s nothing wrong with praise. Knowing that you’re doing something right is helpful. The trouble comes when leaders depend on praise. By deflecting praise, you show that you’re secure as a leader. Look for opportunities to spread success around: publicly (which will solidify your team culture) and privately (which will likely mean more to the individual).
What you think?
How do you build a healthy KidMin culture?