It’s a dilemma many Supervisors, Managers and Leaders face. You have a team who waiver from the path occasionally, do you let it go until it becomes a problem, or do you step in early and keep things on track.
I figure if you take a Leaders view you provide the guidelines so the team can follow the lead, therefore you don’t wait for a challenge to arise, you provide a great set of guidelines to ensure things stay on track. If things stray from the path, you then get to put on your ‘coaching hat’ and provide support to ensure the team are aware of the guidelines and assist them to explore how they might have ‘strayed from the path’.
This is one of the reasons I often suggest a great set of Values – Mission and Vision be in place as a foundation to always work from. It allows the Leader to have back up, to allow the team to explore if they are holding true to the values of the organisation.
I guess it becomes a case of ‘see something, do something’ before things become an issue. In a decent situation it can be more of a chat which takes place asking questions about how things are going, and what sorts of examples the team may have about how things are going and if they match to the values etc.
This can be a more powerful position to work from as it works more on the teams internal motivation and thought processes rather than having things imposed or pushed on them when challenges arise. It’s as if they have come up with the solution or drive to solve the challenge, rather than being told the answer.
The real trick to all of this is getting things to fit to the way people communicate – If people are not used to being asked questions relating to ‘values and beliefs’ then they might find it hard to respond, let alone act on the information. However the Leader who is a more flexible communicator will find ways to weave these into normal conversation and start the ball rolling, perhaps using examples of how things might fit in certain situations.
Be flexible in your approach, get in early and lead the team then tweak the details to suit, I’m sure you will find leadership can become a whole lot easier if you try this out.