Have you ever been told your leadership style is like glitter glue? I have. And at first I didn’t know what to do with that concept.
When was the last time that you played with glue? Yes, I am talking about that white sticky substance that you can shape into all sorts of things while its still soft. Better yet, have you ever played with glitter glue. It’s just like it sounds; it is glue that has glitter in it so it’s designed for people to see the glue in your creation.
When glue is soft, you can see how it attaches things together and things can be moved around. When glitter glue is soft it leaves specks of glitter over everything it touches, bringing attention to each piece individually and collectively.
Leadership is a bit like glue. You have the soft glue leaders who keep teams together yet still have the flexibility to adapt to various shapes. You have hard glue leaders who have stiff teams that can’t vary their work. Then there are the glitter glue leaders. The glitter brings light and reflection to the team.
“I wanna be that glue guy: I want to be a guy my team and my coach can count on. That’s what I want to be.” Jimmy Butler
Here are a few strategies for become a leader who is the glue of the team.
Lead by Example
Be part of the team. Work alongside your team and show them you are a hard worker, not a slacker. Demonstrate that you can work with your team to resolve any problems that come up. Remember, teamwork does not mean micromanage. Working with is different from controlling what others do.
When it comes to assigning tasks and balancing workloads, make sure you are being fair and not showing any favoritism. You may personally like some of your team members more than others, but leadership is about implementing standards and opportunities that are equitable.
Do the Dirty Work
Let your team know that just because you are in a leadership role, doesn’t mean you are too good to get your hands dirty. There may be team tasks that are unpleasant or tedious. Be willing to pitch in and help with those tasks.
“The glue that holds all relationships together … is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” Brian Tracy
Make Tough Decisions
One of the primary reasons you are in a leadership position is because those above you believe in your ability to make decisions. Some of these will be easy, some will be hard. Don’t shirk the hard ones. These are the ones that will test you as a leader; rise to the occasion and show what your made of.
Support Your Team
You count on your team to accomplish its work; your team counts on you to support their work. This means providing the right tools and resources and speaking up for them. Never throw your team under the bus. Your team’s success is a direct reflection of your leadership. If you want to shine, you need to help them shine.
Set the Attitude
As the leader, your team will look to see how you approach and react to every situation. If you exhibit a negative attitude, your team will reflect this as well. Keep a positive mindset and lead with enthusiasm and a smile. That’s what you want from your team, so that is what you need to show them.
A great team leader will make it so that people see the success of the whole team rather than the contributions of just one or two people. Leaders don’t take credit but share credit with the entire team. Everyone will have a different role on the team and some of those roles will appear to contribute more than others. But what type of workload shifting happened within the team to allow those couple of individuals to take on the heavier project work?
It’s usually the other team members who pick up extra daily work so someone else can do special projects. The leader needs to facilitate this process and make sure that every team member understands how they are contributing – whether that be directly or indirectly. Even seemly solo projects can’t happen without the indirect support of a team.
“When you sell a man a book, you don’t sell him 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life.” Christopher Morley
One strategy for spreading glitter throughout the team is through the use of language. When everyone understands their role toward the team effort, and everyone feels valued in their role, it is easy to talk in terms of we rather than I. It is the leader’s job to be able to evaluate the team members. Those outside of the team, should see the team as a smooth operating entity rather than a group of individuals.
Another strategy for glitter is recognition. Don’t just focus on the big things. Highlighting small achievements along the path is a great way to build a feeling of success. And feeling successful creates excitement for moving forward. Celebrate both the team as a whole and the contributions of each member. The shiny joy of glitter should be distributed throughout the team.
Putting It All Together
Is your leadership made of soft glitter glue? Do you serve as an adhesive that keeps teams together? Can you be flexible enough to let those you hold together shift in order to create different forms and accomplish innovative tasks? Are you able to ooze around them and be the connecting force that supports their work as a team? Is the team bound and function as a unit or scattered as a loose group of individuals each doing their own thing? Do you make sure that everyone on the team shares in the glittery recognition of the team’s accomplishments?
What can you do to become more like soft glitter glue? Are you taking steps to make sure you don’t become hard and dry? Review the strategies above to get your glue on.
Revised June 2022. Originally published under The OD Pro in March 2020.