Brave Leadership Techniques for Creating and Leading Empowered Teams 



As an aspiring leader at Mint Group South Africa, it is necessary to create an atmosphere that encourages both performance, improvement, and confidence in your team, to be bold and innovative. For performance management to be successful you must communicate, motivate, and support your teams and the people within your teams as individuals.

In this piece, I will share how to get the most out of your team, and how that contributes to your personal leadership reputation.

It features the following:  

  • Expecting the best out of your team. 
  • Management in a remote workplace 
  • Building Trust in a remote workplace 
  • Practical tips on managing poor performance. 
  • Day-to-day aspects of managing performance. 
  • Applying principles of a Growth Mindset. 

Samuel Chand wrote a book called “Who’s Holding Your Ladder?”. The book was a result of an experience he had in New York. He was invited to speak at a conference in New York. While waiting in the main area, he started wondering about topics he could share.  While staring out the window, a man on a ladder caught his attention. He watched in fascination as the man painted, watched his graceful motions.  But he noticed that the man could only reach a limited area.   

It brought up the questions: 

Why was he not going higher? How could he paint higher?   

He had a ladder extension. But he had to climb down to move the ladder.   

The answer was simple – there no one was holding the ladder, no one to support him. He needed help.  

This is when Chand drew the principles to business and concluded that effective leadership is dependent on the person, or persons, that are holding the ladder. In other words, the supporting roles.  

So if you want to look at it in more practical terms. The CEO is the leader who is on the ladder, he is painting the vision.  He can only paint as far as the team takes him.  The height that a visionary leader can reach on their ladder, is not controlled by their capabilities, not by how inspiring they are, but controlled by who’s holding the ladder. Those who hold the ladders are as important, and even more important, as the leaders themselves. 

This story allows us to understand how important ladder holders are, and that they need to be acknowledged.  No man can create a vision on his own – they need someone to believe in them, give them credibility and defend them.  But in return, leaders need to appoint those who believe and support them. So, it is critical to select the correct ladder holders.  

He goes on to say what quantifies a great leader and uses the word STAFF

S = Strong people who can handle instruction and correction

T = Teachable people who are still curious and want to learn 

A = Attentive people who learn quickly

F = Firm people who are not blown around by manipulative people 

F = Faithful people who believe and trust in their leadership.

I found this so powerful, and such an amazing story. People must not look at a single ladder, as a business is made up of multiple ladders and each person has their turn holding the ladder.  You as a leader, have your team holding your ladder and supporting you.  You, in turn, are supporting and holding the ladder for your leader.  More powerful, is that the people supporting you are beyond your team. On your journey in life, you have a support team holding your ladder, it is your manager, staff, family, and friends.  Hence it is critical that you surround yourself with the right team, skills, and friends.   

So the question is who is holding your ladder?  What support can you get from them? Is the vision clear? Is your support defined? Who’s ladder are you holding?  Do you have clear expectations? 

When we look at our teams and structures, one fundamental principle we look for is expecting the best. The best of the team, best outcomes, and promoting performance. However, when you expect this, you need to see it from the other side.  You as a leader, need to show up, be present, be real, and give your best.  Do we do this?   

How do we get the best out of our team? 

Show up, be present, be real, and listen.  You cannot expect something from the team if you are not prepared to give it in return.  

This means:  

  • Be vulnerable 
  • Live your values 
  • Bravely trust 
  • Learn to rise 

Have a Vision  

Set and communicate the vision.  It is critical everyone understands what is trying to be achieved and most importantly what their part in it is.  

Make clear expectations  

Communicate, listen and repeat.  Expectation does not only imply work.

What are boundaries? What are the expectations for both parties?  What form of communication is used? What constitutes done? This is critical! Deadlines to extensions to presentation.  

Trust your team  

Success is based on people trusting each other to achieve something.  Successful relationships are based on trust.  People need a safe environment to raise their views, ideas and discuss what is not working. You need to be consistent, and it takes time, but a safe environment is a productive one. 

The implementation of feedback is important  

Feedback loops are critical.  From postmortems on projects to KPI feedback to end-of-quarter reviews.  It is critical that you are identifying what was successful and what needs improvement. You will learn by reflecting.  It needs to be done in a constructive way. Even introduce post-mortems.  Before we start a project – have a pre-mortem to discuss what typically goes wrong and what risks to look out for. 

Initiate difficult conversations  

The last one is the courage to have tough conversations.  If something is not working or going right – ignoring or delaying the conversation will only make it worse.  You can break people’s confidence for no reason. It can also be a massive burden on the business and take up management time.

Successful leadership is a journey and takes time to build a team that thrives. Start Today!


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