What is a clear field? It means that one has a playing ground which has clear vision and freedom to experiment or even fail (read make mistakes). Every CEO or leader wants their second- and third-tier leadership to feel that ‘They have a clear field.’ But very few are actually able to communicate this to their teams. What all can you do?

‘Show’ Them Upfront Trust

‘SHOW’ is an important word. It isn’t enough that you ‘TELL’ that you trust him/her. Anybody can tell that. But demonstrate that you trust them. Giving a good role/opportunity upfront is a good way to show. But I would say — to demonstrate your trust, the best way is to trust an important decision by the new person.

Trust until you don’t, don’t be tentative.

Say Yes Carefully, Occasionally, On A Case-to-case Basis

A leader is supposed to say a lot more NOs than YESes. I myself have written a lot about this. This is not to negate anything. In fact, this is a special case where a leader is supposed to look carefully and say YES.

Once you build a good team, you will start observing that the requests that you get are, more often than not, logical. In some cases, you might not see the immediate value or need, but you should trust your team enough to say Yes. Remember, you might not be right always.

So there is a chance that your team will make it work. In many cases, it might be small things. A leader should understand the motivation for the team and say Yes, carefully, when he/she needs to.

Communicate Openly With Cascading Messages

It is not enough to say or even show once or twice, you need to keep sending the signals to your team continuously that you trust them. It is going to take some time before they feel confident and start acting like their true self.

Don’t Ever Micromanage

If you want your team to trust you and themselves, then micromanagement is the last thing you want to do. Tell them that they have the authority and are accountable for what happens in their spectrum of activities. Sit with them when something goes wrong, but never bypass him/her to directly take care of the situation and never do a task-by-task recovery of the problem.

Hear And Acknowledge Them When They Want You To

I have done the mistake of not hearing them when they wanted me to. You will get busy with something when they actually want to speak with you. After trying 2–3 times, they will just leave it.

Continuing from Point 2 above, hearing them out is the starting point of saying Yes. But even in cases that you have to say No, hearing them out completely, acknowledging it before doing so, will make it a smoother process for you and them.

Praise In Public And Reprimand In Private

Acknowledge the work they are doing in a public. Never feel constrained to give credit. Keep giving as much as you can (they usually come back). Their confidence will get a huge boost when you recognise their hard work or accomplishment.

Reprimanding in public is not advisable unless it is the only way to go. Have the stinker conversation when you have to. Be on his/her face and be as honest/open as possible, but not in public; the less in the room while reprimanding, the better. (The best way is 1-on-1)

The biggest gift a leader can get is a good team. 99/100 times, the team won’t start as a ‘good team.’ It takes a lot of painful effort before they get there. But once they get there, it makes it so much easier for you as a CEO to drive the company.


[This post by Arjun R Pillai first appeared on Medium and has been reproduced with permission.]

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