About a month ago, my teammates and I were discussing a project to develop a new leadership offering. The project was important, but I felt that we needed to wait until Q3 to start the effort and that we would likely need to hire a contractor to complete the development work. I also assumed that we would need to budget additional funds to cover the costs.
Then, Jess raised her hand saying that she could tackle the project. Two questions ran through my mind in that moment:
- Jess is already busy; does she have the bandwidth to work on this project?
- Jess doesn’t normally do development work; does Jess have the skills to do it?
Fortunately, I held off on asking my questions and watched as the team discussed options. It became clear that Jess not only had the skills, but she was excited to do the work. Moreover, the team was able to creatively adjust current workloads to free up Jess’ time.
Jess took hold of the project and ran with it. And when I say ran, it wasn’t a jog but a dead-on sprint. Thirty days later, the project is nearly complete and we are all amazed that something we thought would take six months has been accomplished in 30 days. Jess has once again proven herself an invaluable member of our team, and has simultaneously enhanced her skills, energized her, and elevated performance of the entire team.
Jess’ example is great lesson for every leader. Instead of assuming that your team is too busy to take on new work or that no one is interested in taking the lead, ask the team for their input. You might be surprised by the suggestions they offer and how a Jess will rise to the challenge.
To help you think through these situations and better tap into the power of your team. Consider this acronym T-E-A-M and the associated questions:
- Talent – Who has the knowledge, skills, and abilities to tackle the initiative?
- Experience – Who has experience delivering on similar projects?
- Availability – How could we change schedules or realign resources?
- Motivation – How energized might a team member be if we allow them to take over?
This week’s tool is a graphic designed to help you to tap into your T-E-A-M’s resources to see how you might take on future projects. Working with your team to answer these questions, may go a long way toward accomplishing future initiatives, help teammates, like Jess, release their potential, and build a better team in the process.
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.