The answer is a resounding,“YES!”
I spoke at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in late March of 2011. Daniel Hastings is a student at the school who was unable to attend my student leadership presentation. He emailed me with some questions and, after I responded to him, gave me permission to share his questions and my answers in this blog.
Daniel Hastings: What suggestions would you give in leading a work group or team?
Dave Kelly: I try to instill leaders, whether students, employees, managers, etc. with this concept: Don’t think about what’s in it for you, think about what’s in it for them. If you can meet the needs of your fellow students (or employees) and accomplish the objective of your projects or organization, then you are going to have more motivated people who will strive for success in whatever you may be undertaking. Also, try to find a way to get team members to know each other on a personal level. It is easier to work with people that you have a relationship with and a little harder to “get in a snit” when you have a personal connection.
Daniel: How do you keep people involved in a school or work project. Examples for myself would include creating a retail game, starting a business or designing a aircraft.
I’ve always found myself wanting to lead the group and I’ve really started to enjoy being in that kind of position, but sometimes I find that the group I’m interested in doesn’t want to put in the effort that I do and I end up doing a good majority of the work. How do I get people more involved and more excited to work on the projects that I share with them? And how to I get them to stay on the project?
Dave: My answers for both of these are linked, so I have combined them into one question. To get people involved, first of all make sure you know exactly what your goal is for the project. An unclear vision or vague objective will either turn people or way, or they may sign up but will fall away before the desired result is achieved. Once you have defined this, then determine who would like to involve or recruit to the project. This way, they clearly understand what they are being asked to do. If you know your team members on a personal level, as I discussed above, then you will be able to use their “hot buttons” to solicit their involvement. “Hot buttons” are those things they are interested in, their passions, what excite them. When you have their involvement, make sure you clearly define what is expected of them and provide resources and training to them for their assigned tasks. Don’t assume they will just know what to do or how to do it.
Finally, never fear “no.” Some people will just not come along with you. That’s OK. This goes to what you wrote about other people not having the same level of commitment as you. That happens many times in organizations and companies. As a leader, you are typically more invested in the projects and/or activities. When I owned a multi-state mortgage company, I knew my employees cared about their work and sought personal success, but they would never be quite as invested as I was–because I had my money on the line! However, never fear a “no” because until you ask someone to become involved or join, they are already at “no.” And if you ask, you may just get a “yes!” And in that, you may find people who are as committed and passionate as you are. Perhaps they will be the future leaders of your group.