Your leaders must have space to play to be able to lead. We can call this space a sandbox. A sandbox is a space where people can work without being monitored or given specific directions on what they should be doing. It’s all about the freedom and support you give them so that they can really be leaders to their own teams.
How do you think your leaders will respond when they have a sandbox to play in? As you can imagine, they will be excited to explore, shape and have impact. And that’s exactly what your leaders need.
The keys are to give your team leaders:
- Leadership boundaries
- Organisational resources
- Tools for success
Every sandbox, regardless of its size, has defined boundaries. The starting point for your leaders is to agree their leadership boundaries. These define what is within their authority and what isn’t. It helps keep them on track without micromanaging them. Sometimes these boundaries are already defined by the organisation. Even if they are, it’s important to take the time to have clarifying conversations with each of your direct report leaders to make sure you have the same understanding on where their leadership boundaries lie. Never assume!
Autonomy within the boundaries is key to allowing them to make decisions and learn from their own mistakes. Your leaders deserve autonomy over how they lead their teams. Leaders need freedom to experiment and try new things without being micromanaged. Leave room for flexibility where appropriate, but within clear parameters. You don’t want to box people into doing things a certain way if there is another approach that would work better for them, their team and your business.
There is nothing more frustrating than being given leadership boundaries, glorious autonomy and then not getting the resources to achieve the outcomes you are responsible for.
There are many resources you can give your leaders to help them be successful in their sandbox. It could be anything from funding and training to the access of technology or tools needed for success.
Tools for success
It’s also important to provide your leaders with tools for individual leadership success. This could include training, mentoring, and other resources they need to be successful. On this one, don’t underestimate time spent in coaching conversations with you as their leader. Often, the best support you can give one of your leaders is the time to bounce concerns and ideas off you. This can be strange if you are just moving into a leader of leaders’ role. You don’t always have to give them the answer. If you get good at listening, it’s amazing how often people can work things through in conversation and come to a clear and valid way forward. They will thank you, and sometimes you’ll wonder what you did?
Get into creating sandboxes
There are quite a few things you can do to create a sandbox for your leaders. But the benefits are well worth it. Not only will your leaders be excited to have this new space in which to play, but they will also be more productive and innovative. So go ahead and start creating sandboxes for your leaders today. You won’t regret it.
To find out more about creating sandpits for your leaders, get a copy of my latest book ‘Becoming a Leader of Leaders: How to succeed in bigger jobs and still have a life’. You can find it here, https://www.optimalfuture.com.au/becoming-a-leader-of-leaders/