Have you ever watched a highly functioning department accomplish a goal or objective? The secret ingredient I have noticed is that “natural leadership” is encouraged from every team member or participant.
Consider the quiet, shy clerk who is newly hired and brought into a department project. They bring a fresh viewpoint and, when encouraged to participate, can ask questions or “what if”s that others might not even think of. Sometimes there is a “social butterfly” of the group who has a talent to draw out ideas and comments from the introspective members of the team.
So how can we tap into employees’ natural leadership?
1) Identify skills and talents of each employee
Have a one-on-one chat with each employee and ask them what their favorite project / role was, or to describe the most memorable job they ever completed. Then ask them why it was such a positive experience. These conversations will give you clues as to the type of skills they employed and what they will “gravitate” to in terms of motivation.
2) Utilize skill assessment tools to identify or confirm employee capabilities
I use the DISC assessment model, which incorporates both behavioral styles and values based guidelines to tap into employees’ unique skills. This model can be used to aid in select employees during the hiring process, to reposition employees into new or better-suited roles and to reward employees with career management planning tools.
3) Acknowledge the unique strengths of talents of each team member
Sset up team building opportunities where team members can be publicly acknowledged for their contributions, skills and talents. This builds trust and confidence in a group or department. Where there are personality clashes, facilitators are often helpful to move past negative opinions and set up positive objectives.
4) Create a forum for inclusive discussion
Find ways to creatively explore options. The 6 Thinking Hats is a great exercise to consider an issue from all angles. Assign different individuals to each bring one of the 6 approaches to an issue, so they are all encouraged to participate.
5) Appeal to individuals privately to put their best game forward
Sometimes groups will experience a stalemate or blockage. When emotions are elevated or stakes are high, some employees will “dig in” or shut down. A quiet, private conversation appealing to them to use their natural leadership can often ease the difficulty. Extremely shy employees may also respond to this approach.
6) Celebrate successes, both big and small
Your department will enjoy positive recognition and be motivated to continue their journey toward even bigger success!