Guest Post by David M. Dye
I’m honored to help my friend, David Dye, celebrate the launch of his book with this guest post. The Seven Things Your Team Needs to Hear You Say was released earlier this month. I had the pleasure of reviewing a preview copy and was impressed with the clarity with which David outlines today’s leaders’ key priorities. This is a must-read for anyone concerned with team performance… and teams!
At a state correctional facility, Christine had a problem.
With no prior supervisory experience, as one of a small handful of female staff in a mostly male prison, and with a highly diverse and contentious inmate population, she had been placed in charge of creating a clothing factory.
One year later, Christine’s factory was out-producing the prototype operation, had an impeccable safety record, and could run itself without supervision.
When I asked Christine what made such a rapid transition possible, she said, “It began with my belief in the people. When they came to me, they wanted to tell me about what they had done on the outside – why they were in prison. I cut them off, told them I didn’t really care about who they were last year.
‘This is who we are going to be in this factory and this is what we’re going to do.’ Most of them didn’t believe it at first, but pretty quickly they responded to someone believing in them.”
She described how male inmates would initially object to sewing because they thought it wasn’t something men did. Christine would walk over to one of the industrial sewing machines, quietly operate it, produce a garment, return to the men and say, “You’re telling me women can run this industrial machine better than you men? I don’t believe that.”
In my early twenties, I had the honor to serve as an elected City Councilman in Glendale, Colorado.
The Mayor at the time was a man named Joe Rice. Joe serves in the National Guard and has done several voluntary tours of duty in Iraq to assist with building local governments and civic institutions. After his term as Mayor, he went on to serve a number of terms in the Colorado state legislature and works today in the space exploration industry while continuing to serve in the Guard.
Joe’s leadership success comes from a relentless optimism and belief in his team’s ability to solve problems and get things done.
When we faced a contentious city government decision, there were often three or four opposing groups involved. The professional city staff with their interests, the elected officials (who rarely shared a unified opinion), service providers, and the public would frequently reach logjams – even when everyone generally agreed that change was needed.
These three or four different groups would get stuck. “What are we going to do?” they would ask each other. Somebody would propose a solution, and it would get shot down: “Oh, we can’t do that…”
After a few minutes of this, Joe would say, “We can find 1000 reasons why this won’t work. That’s not the question. The question is, ‘How can we get it done?’”
Joe’s question presupposed that a solution was possible, and that we could accomplish our goals. Not surprisingly, we did. That one question and the belief it communicated was all we needed to break the impasse.
Bring Out the Best
Your team may be tough, but they probably aren’t convicted criminals or politicians! (Insert your own joke here…)
When Christine and Joe told their teams, “You can!” their belief became their team’s belief.
If you want to bring out the very best from every member of your team, then they need to hear you say, “You can!”
Your belief in your team will become their confidence.
Ultimately, this is the distilled essence of leadership: transferring the belief that together we can have a better tomorrow.
What About You? Who are the leaders in your life who believed in you – even when you couldn’t see it for yourself? How did they impact your life?
David M. Dye works with leaders who want to get more done, build teams that care, and meet their goals. David is a former nonprofit executive, elected official, and believes everyone can master the essentials of influence.
His new book, The Seven Things Your Team Needs to Hear You Say, provides leaders with practical tools they can use to build engaged, energized, and innovative teams. You can connect with David on Twitter (@davidmdye) and through his blog.