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Increasing Collaboration Within Your Team

Scaling Team
Personal Growth
Leadership
Internal Communication
Collaboration

2 December, 2021

Anurag Jain
Anurag Jain

Leadership Role at Fortinet

Anurag Jain, a leader at Fortinet, discusses his strategy to promote growth within his teams, using servant leadership concepts.

Problem

As a manager, your responsibility is to grow your team into the best they can be. Take every opportunity to coach your team, and be present when challenges arise. Often this is easier said than done, as each team member will need different guidance than others. It is critical to apply the proper technique to connect with your team. The key is to create a strategy to grow your team while minimizing the risk of unsatisfactory team performance.

Actions taken

I use the concept of servant leadership with my team. If your goal is to increase the abilities and success of your team, you need to advocate for them. It does not mean you are there to make them look good but to push them to be better. The name of servant leadership comes from the idea that you, as the manager, are there to assist each team member in their career path, in their day-to-day work, and to be a champion for them. Your role is not to give orders, but to help the team with fulfilling the needs of the business and the team in the best possible manner. You'll quickly understand that team member blocking issues may be technical as well as emotional. If your team is stuck on a problem and doesn't know how to proceed, you must find a way to remove their blocks to help them move forward. If they are blocked due to communication challenges, you need to help them find a way get over those.

Growth support is all about improving your team's resume. As a manager, you should be considering how their careers look to prospective employers. This isn't because your team members are planning to leave the company or you want them to leave, but rather when they grow to a point where other companies want them, they are performing to a higher standard and are automatically more valuable to your organization as well. This is a continuous cycle where you are constantly working on your resume. If you continue to think this way, there is less chance your team members will go to a different company as their career would grow right here with you in a supportive environment.

Many teams will have members that are new to the industry. They each have their challenges, and you can support them through these. Let your team know that you are there to help, not judge when they are having difficulties. When your employees see that you are genuinely in their corner, they will be more trusting of you. In turn, they will listen to you as you attack more challenging problems or a quicker deadline. Again it is a give and take; if you help your team grow, they will push harder towards the organization's goals.

There will always be employees who have no desire to grow. Managers have multiple choices in this situation: you can find a role for them without growth or allow them to leave the company. While this may seem harsh, the weakest member in your team will lower the quality of your entire workload. Set an example to your team that growth and production are equally important, and if one cannot produce for the team, they are not suited for that team.

Lessons learned

  • To grow in your career, you are required to rise through more junior roles. Remember the times when you had the challenges that your juniors have now. Use your experience and wisdom to identify and guide them through those challenges, and they will also grow the way you did.
  • The benefits of servant leadership are not always apparent at first. You have to provide your team with value before they will begin to trust and, in turn, produce more quality work. You have to be persistent and honest in your relationship with the team members and be focused on long-term benefits.

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