Understanding Evolution

Posted in management by Christopher R. Wirz on Sat Mar 12 2016

Note: For this post, assume you are a leader.

Your ability to move the team forward has a lot to do with your ability to look back at where they have been A leader must understand that current team culture is the result of an evolution over time. For a new leader that was not previously a member of the group, the importance of this consideration is greater.

Before a leader announces new performance standard, projects or goals, he or she must understand where the team has been. This involves appreciating key employees and leaders of the past. A leader must also learn about any key incidents in recent history (last few years) that led to major impacts on the team.

A leader must be careful not to rush into action just to make a mark. Instead, focus on the knowledge that a team is made of unique individuals and therefore a unique team culture. Culture is a shared understanding of how they tend to behave and perform. Culture will shape how a leader makes and executes decisions.

A leader knows the present culture evolved in part to some key players. Some of these players might still be in the group or organization. These players can have very long-lasting impacts. The way that rapport was developed is now part of the culture.

A new leader does not have to emulate rapport-building behaviors exactly, but should allow them to influence his or her leadership style. It is also important to learn of the key historical incidents that have had a strong influence. These will remain in team conversations - and it is important to capture the learning each provided. This may be a program that was a success or failure - or hiring an individual. Also, having knowledge of these events makes the leader seem to have rapport with the team.

A team's evolution can be learned through conversation and asking questions. This will allow the leader to correctly shape and discuss your proposals to move forward with needed changes. When a leader better understands the past, he or she can move forward in a manner that shows respect for the team's history.

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