Kate knocked on the door, said “do you have a minute”, then quickly came in and sat down. She said, “I want to share something with you, but I don’t want you to try and fix it, just listen.” I kept quiet and listened. It was important for her to talk, and she had a plan for addressing the problem. My gift to her was my time, I was available for her.

Leading a team of people is never easy because they are all uniquely different, with their own strengths and weaknesses. While you will work with each one differently, they need the same things from you.

Your staff have two questions that are linked together:

  1. Do you care about me?
  2. Can I do whatever I want?

You don’t answer these questions, but your actions as a leader answer them. The answers must be “yes” for caring about them and “no” to letting them do whatever they want. This old expression is 100% accurate for leading a team, and it’s also true of parenting.

A relationship without rules will lead to rebellion

Rules without a relationship will lead to rebellion

I spent some years in my career associated with the Sisters of Mercy Healthcare, and for them a teacup is an important symbol. Using their words, it symbolizes “the warm and caring relationships which were at the heart of Catherine McAuley’s (the founder) Mercy vision.” I like it because it focuses on relationships.

Let me share with you my formula for leaders, a “cup of TEA” you must provide for your team.

Time – It’s the foundation of any relationship. Your team needs time with you, individually and as a group. Make sure you check in on them to see how they are doing. Make sure you are available and always have time for them when they need you. Yes, it’s harder these days with hybrid schedules and working remotely, but it doesn’t change the importance. It’s been true for centuries that you won’t have a good relationship if you don’t spend time with someone.

Expectations – Your team needs expectations from you. Expectations are the target; without it they don’t know what to aim for. If you don’t have expectations, it screams to them you don’t care. When we set low expectations, we think they’ll be excited when they achieve them, but low expectations are interpreted as you don’t think I have much talent, or I can’t do much. Set high expectations, the higher they are, the more they will be focused, and chances are greater they’ll produce. High expectations say, “I believe you can”, which they need to hear.

Accountability – No one likes it when you hold them accountable, yet it’s critical for their development. It’s a signal they, and what they are working on, are both important. If they weren’t important, you wouldn’t be checking up on their progress. Holding them accountable says good performance isn’t optional, it’s expected, and I want to know you are doing it. Holding someone accountable gives you a chance to affirm them with “Well done, I knew you could do it.” If they haven’t succeeded, you have a chance to say, “I believe you can do better, how can I help you.”

Make sure you have a cup of TEA (Time, Expectations, Accountability) ready for your team.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Matthew 25: 21

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