Another chapter from my book that I have been working on for eight years. My goal is to have a working e-book by June.
We all have cooked a burger, a piece of chicken, a cake, or something that requires you to constantly check it and see if it is cooked they way you like it, or cooked so it won’t make you sick, one or the other. I prefer to cook things the way I like them. For example: I like my brownies a little undercooked. Most of you are better cooks than me and probably use a thermometer, I am just not that kind of cook. I prefer to constantly check the in on it and see how it is coming along. This is also my leadership style when leading a team. I take the temperature quite often to see where it is. As a leader you are constantly acting like a thermostat and a thermometer. Taking the temperature and regulating the temperature.
I have always been the type of leader that keeps his finger on the pulse and have always had a good gage on where the team is and how they are mentally. During times of change and unfortunately during times where turnover has occurred and even layoffs, checking the temperature of the team is critical so you know where you need to give more attention and where to turn up the heat.
In leadership you are typically the last one to know what is going on, and if you are not constantly doing a temperature check you will definitely be the last one to know. So it is vital for you to have a few key people who are in the trenches that you can rely on to give you the scoop on what is going on with the team. They can let you know how the team is feeling and what the true temperature is.
I have found that using this key person is even more critical when rolling out new policies and procedures, especially the ones that you know will cause the most fear or concern. Running things past a key person that can give you some input before you roll it out to the rest of the team can be invaluable. Again, this person must be very trustworthy and you know will not break confidence. If they ever do, they will never have that opportunity again. For me usually this person is the person I have targeted for growth opportunities in the future, this is usually their first test with me on their trustworthiness.
Lastly, the key to knowing the temperature is being involved. Every leadership book or analysis will tell you this. But what does involved mean?
To me, it means meeting with the people daily and listening to what is going on. Whether you have three people who you lead or you lead an entire company, being involved in the areas you should be involved in so valuable. You can’t and won’t know what the temperature is if you are living in box. Many leaders that have leaders underneath them, I encourage you to go to the people, unfortunately you have managers at times that are more concerned about looking good than actually being honest about what is going on. So you have to go to the people and ask really great questions to find out where the issues are and see what is really going on in the business.
As a young leader, I attributed much of my success to always knowing what the temperature of the team was. I did this through being heavily involved, setting the pace, and relying on a few keep people to help me manage the team with the right things in the right way at the right time. However, the one thing a leader must always remember, regardless of the temperature of the team, they must make decisions quickly and do what is best for the business at that time, regardless of where the team is mentally. In a later chapter, I will discuss how leadership is not a Popularity Contest, if your goal is to be liked, don’t get into leadership.