By Sonica Aron

While engaging with team from a leading FMCG company, where the team members worked extensively on the scope of the assignment, probed on the deliverables, methodology, made suggestions and gave inputs. Their insights were extremely well thought and articulated. Their articulation was both respectful yet assertive. And then came their leader into the picture. In that meeting the interaction between the leader and the team members was observed.

The leader gave the team member a patient hearing, listened to their views, did not contradict them but questioned them, coach them, guided them where she felt they needed to think. The team was comfortable with each other and their leader, was comfortable to voice their opinions and be questioned. The word ‘Leader’ is being used here mindfully because she was building her team to be thinkers, to take ownership, to take charge. The organisation continues to be one of the best places to work for even in these tough times.

Teams where we find clarity of thoughts, clear questioning, probing, insights, respect are often teams that are inclusive, where members are treated and groomed well by their leaders. This is where teams feel empowered to deliver.

In another instance, another team from another industry, the team member was extremely uncertain and tentative on a lot of things. There were last minute repeated queries, unanswered questions, and a frequent response that she would check with the manager and get back. Here again the word ‘Manager’ is being used mindfully, even though the title of the ‘Manager’ was CXO level. A meeting with the manager was quickly arranged. In that meeting the manager took charge and the team members who joined the meeting simply agreed to the points she made. There were no discussions, no taking of inputs. The manager maintained a hands-off approach, even though when it came to the delivery, she was on the forefront while all the backend work was done by her team members. There was no sharing of credit or appreciation.

This gives insights into the fact that Leadership traits get reflected in team behaviors which are visible to the world outside. Whether we like it or not, how we behave with our teams cannot be hidden behind cabin doors (or on online platforms in current times). Their demeanor gives us away.

It is also a fact that today talent evaluates organisations and managers/ leaders as much as organisations and managers evaluate candidates. Hence having leaders who truly build inclusive teams, groom and coach team members are critical for organisations to be seen as employers of choice. So organisations need to select their leaders carefully and invest in leadership development, come what may. This is an investment for the future, to be able to build a long term sustainable high-performance culture. This is not a good to do, or a tick mark, but needs to be an ROI driven initiative, linked to how leaders truly contribute to building inclusive and empowered culture in the organisation, and towards building future leadership and talent pipeline.

The author is the Founder & Managing Partner at Marching Sheep.