Effective Team Management: The Box of Action

Do you set clear boundaries of deliverables for team members at the outset of a project?  

I call this practice ‘setting the box of action’. Define the box, clarify uncertainties, and then let your team members get to work. As long as the box is large, with plenty of room for flexibility, creativity and ownership by team members, you’ve set your team up for success.

Recently, I sat on a plane beside one of Canada’s top soldiers who worked for Joint Task Force 2. We compared leadership notes.

What makes a successful company?  What makes a successful sports team?  What makes a successful military commando unit?

The soldier explained that successful leaders regularly clarify their box of action. Leaders must set clear expectations and communicate a compelling end state. Moreover, leaders also must provide a sizeable box in which the front line soldiers can make quick decisions. After experimenting over the years with multiple leadership models, this top soldier found that this strategy saved lives.

In a business environment, we’re not often operating with losses of human lives. However, we still want to be as efficient as possible with our resources. Time and money are scarce! If you haven’t implemented this strategy with your team, I suggest you try it when delegating your next project.  Define a box in which your team can thrive and communicate a clear end state.  The let them get to work.

If you’re leading a team, have you clearly defined the box of action? If you’re working on a team, do you know the boundaries of the box? And, do you fully understand the end state of your current efforts?  If not, ask, ask, ask.

Send Adam Kreek a message on Twitter @adamkreek. You can also find more tips to improve your body, mind and soul on the Don’t Change Much website or through Adam’s column on CBC Sports.

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