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Graci Leadership Solutions Blog

  • Writer's pictureGraci Leadership

Teamwork Starts With The Leader



Have you ever heard a leader say, “It’s all our job as a team to answer the phone? To get the dock door? To return customer voicemails, and to keep our spare cubicle clean?” There is an expression out there: if everyone is responsible, no one is responsible. 


When a racing car comes into the pits, every pit crew member knows what they are responsible for doing. You don’t have one crew member changing the windshield and six crew members changing a tire.  That would be utter chaos and pandemonium. 


If an employee falls and grabs their heart, we don’t say, “Would someone call 911?” We point directly to someone to do it. This direct communication is crucial in assigning tasks, as it prevents misunderstandings and ensures efficient teamwork. If we did say, “Would someone call 911?” We are now leaving it up to others to figure out what their share or role will be. Chaos will ensue, surely leading to a miscommunication. 


This past week, an HR generalist asked me how a team member could tactfully approach their leader, who needs to improve at communicating work assignments. Here are a couple of options: 


  • Captivate the leader’s attention by saying, “I need your help.” That’s an excellent attention-getting statement and will get most leaders to stop what they are doing. Then say, “I need you to check this out for yourself. Some employees are ‘doing more’, and some are ‘doing less’. Eventually, it gets into a big fight. If you can clarify what you want and who is to do it as much as possible, that would be great. I am really worried about having to confront my peers and being seen as a tattler by them or others.” 


  • “I need your help. You asked us to work on this as a team. There seems to be some confusion. Not sure if it was your intention, but some employees are being put in a position of telling others what to do. What can we do to prevent this from occurring?”


Leaders, do not put team members in charge of others' performance. You may lose some of your best people. They think, if you wanted me to confront others about their performance, I would have just become a leader. Asking or telling a team how we plan on breaking up a task or assignment will lead to better productivity and prevent a deterioration of relationships.


Leaders Are MADE, Not Born!

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