Jan 10, 2024

How to Get Better Results from Your Team with Sincere Leadership

How to Get Better Results from Your Team with Sincere Leadership

How to Get Better Results from Your Team with Sincere Leadership

Nathan King

Two women sitting across from each other at a desk in an office.
Two women sitting across from each other at a desk in an office.
Two women sitting across from each other at a desk in an office.

One of the best ways to advance your career: tune your team to contribute meaningfully to your objectives. It's like: 

  • 2 harmonized voices in a song. The sound is quite different and beyond what a single voice can do or what you'd imagine voice 1 + voice 2 to produce.

  • The sight of two dancers moving in a choreographed order is amazing.

Achieving this level of harmony is difficult. Most leaders fail to do it effectively. And to be fully transparent, there isn't a simple process or skill you can learn to achieve it. 

But it's worth striving for, even amidst a sea of questionable advice:

The greatest leadership superpower is actually caring about your subordinates. Many leaders pretend to care, but human beings have exquisitely tuned bullshit detectors, *especially* for people who want something from us, so there’s no substitute for the genuine article. Management books make this mistake all the time, with advice like “try acting like you care,” as opposed to “try actually caring.” This is partly because these books are all cargo cults, partly because actually caring is hard. The people you’re supposed to care about are often disagreeable, unmotivated, selfish, or just plain smelly. 

We must cultivate the practice of caring. In my leadership roles, a consistent practice has helped me to get there. I've achieved attunement primarily through one-on-one meetings. Here is an example of how I do it.

To begin the process, I'd announce in a team meeting that we were going to have 1:1s. That way, everyone knew it was coming, that 1:1 meetings would be baked into the way we do things. 

Here's how it worked, let's use the example of "Rebecca."

Set Expectations for the 1:1 Process

During Rebecca's first meeting, I set a simple expectation: "In these weekly 1:1s, we are going to start by reviewing the work that you completed since our last 1:1, and then we will talk about what's most important between now and the next time we meet. And then we can discuss any area where you are stuck."

Build a Personal Connection

But I started each meeting with her by asking how things were going personally. The primary reason for that is I enjoy people and I'm curious about what they are up to in their lives. We might spend 5-10 minutes talking about a movie, or the restaurant they visited, or a weekend excursion. And then we'd move into the work. 

Get Specific Updates from the Previous One-on-One Meeting

I'd have Rebecca's file open and ask her to tell me the status of the XYZ initiative that she committed to. She'd update me, and we'd move to the next initiative. 

Where she had encountered success, I'd compliment her with a simple statement like, "We're making significant progress. It's going to make a big difference to our customers when we get this completed."

Get Commitments for the Next Week

We'd then move to planning commitment for the next week. I'd say, "What's important to accomplish between now and the next time we meet?"

Most of the time, Rebecca knew what needed to be done. It was a matter of stating it and committing to it. But sometimes, she'd suggest something that seemed less important. I'd ask, "what makes this important? It doesn't seem like a high priority to me compared to the ABC initiative." 

This could spark debate, or she might agree. If there was disagreement, I would allow Rebecca space to speak. Her suggestion might prevail. Or she might realize that it wasn't that important, and come around to my side. 

Regardless, the outcome was we would get clear on what she was going to work on next. 

The One-on-One Meeting Is a Perfect Place to Identify Barriers

During our discussion, if something was blocking Rebecca – and there is always something – I'd make a note of what I needed to do to unblock her: a conversation with someone, or approval of an expense. This was my way to demonstrate commitment. 

Document the Outcome of the One-on-One

Finally, I'd record in my file what she said she'd do and when she would complete it. I'd be ready to refer to the file the next time we met in order to recall all that we agreed to.

And, as a bonus, when it came time for an annual review, there was a rich set of material to draw from to compliment Rebecca and justify her advancement in the organization, or, less likely, to explain to her why she wasn't getting the raise/promotion/bonus.

A simple 1:1 meeting process turns routine interactions into powerful opportunities for growth, empowerment, and collective success.




I help leaders and teams achieve clarity and alignment so they can reach their potential


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© King Strategic Consulting, LLC 2023