A few observations on team leadership
I’ve been extremely fortunate to work for some great leaders during my career. Each of them brought and demonstrated different strengths in their leadership style that made them successful in my view. I’ve identified and captured some of those key strengths, observations, and lessons from my experience of several of them.
You don’t need to be in a formal leadership position to improve the performance of the teams you’re a member of. You can think about and use many, if not all, of these aspects to help you and your fellow team members be part of an exceptional team.
These thoughts don’t just apply to business teams. You can use them with the teams you lead, or are a member of, in your personal life, voluntary roles and your hobbies as well as your work-based teams.
Create a vision and set direction
Create a compelling vision of what your team has to deliver. Make sure the team members understand the reasons why they’re working to achieve that vision. This sets and communicates a clear direction for the team.
Sell the vision to your team and inspire them to want to achieve it. Help the team to identify how they’ll benefit as they progress towards the vision. Encourage the team members to define the personal benefits that will result for them by achieving the vision (“what’s in it for me?”).
Set stretch goals
Create interest, challenge and motivation by setting goals that will stretch your team and move its members out of their comfort zones. But don’t stretch them too far as that can cause stress. Do this for goals at both a team and an individual level.
Focus on ‘what’ not ‘how’
Generate ownership and engagement by clearly defining what you want your team members to deliver. Then let them work out how to achieve it, and the tasks they need to do to make it happen. Don’t tell people how to do it, but be available to advise and provide as much support as they need.
Build two-way trust
Build trust with your team members by doing what you say you’ll do and meeting any commitments you make to them. Don’t micro-manage the team. Trust the team members to get on with what they need to do in order to deliver the tasks and goals.
Identify and remove obstacles
Help your team to deliver and achieve by identifying obstacles. Listen to their concerns about the barriers and the problems raised by the team. Help them to remove the obstacles completely or minimise the impact they have. Encourage the team to define their own solutions.
Involve and engage
Involve all your team members by seeking and valuing their input and ideas. Listen more than you speak. Engage them in the bigger picture and encourage them to participate.
Resolve conflict quickly and directly
Deal with conflicts between team members and those with people outside the team in a timely way. Be direct and clear on the way forward to resolve the issues.
Accept that mistakes will happen. Support team members who make mistakes whilst they work to deliver their tasks. Ensure they learn from the things that don’t work first time and that they share their learning across the team.
Spot potential in individuals
Think beyond the immediate team and business needs and identify potential for growth in individual team members. Work with them and help them to develop so they can achieve their potential. One of the key roles of a leader is to identify and develop their successors.
Give genuine, timely and frequent appreciation and recognition to individual team members. This could be for aspects such as delivering tasks, generating ideas, putting in significant discretionary effort, supporting other team members at an emotional level, stepping out of their comfort zone to fulfill a requirement or demonstrating the team behaviours in a positive way. Make sure the appreciation and recognition is in a form that the team member wants and values.
Understand and care about individuals
Build an understanding of the members of your team and how they like to work at an individual level. Consider how your preferences and style impacts on others. Adapt your style to make things easier for someone who likes to work in a different way to you.
Give honest feedback
Be transparent about the performance of the business, the team and individuals. Give both positive and developmental feedback. Be open, timely and honest with feedback and address any problems as they arise.
Communicate effectively and check that you’ve been heard and understood. Ensure you listen in return.
Be prepared to make a decision. People can get more frustrated by a lack of decision-making than by a leader sometimes making the wrong decision.
Be prepared to be an active member of the team when needed. Be willing to get your hands dirty to help the team move towards the vision.
Demonstrate the team values
Team members will look to you to demonstrate the values in everything you do. They’ll model your behaviour. Think about the ‘shadow of the leader’. The ‘shadow’ you cast through your behaviour reflects what you see as important. Recruit team members who align to the team’s values, and live the values yourself.
Respect others’ views. Be honest and admit when you’re wrong and be willing to say sorry. Give credit to others when it’s due. Put others before yourself.
Be approachable and available for your team members when they need you. Be ready to listen.
Be true to yourself and don’t pretend or try to be someone you’re not. Behave with integrity. People will see through it if you’re trying to portray an image that isn’t you.
Continue to develop
Invest in your own development so you continue to grow at both a personal and professional level. Also invest in the development of your team members.
Be confident and positive
Be confident and believe in who you are and what you’re doing otherwise nobody else will. Remain positive and upbeat. Bad things will happen, but you always have a choice of how you react.
Be willing to share leadership
Recognise that team leadership may shift in order to drive and deliver results. Sometimes the formal team leader may not necessarily be the best person to lead on a certain aspect or task. Encourage team members to take a leadership role when appropriate.
Work hard, play hard and have fun
Create a team environment that encourages and rewards effort and hard work, but also make sure team members enjoy what they do. Generate an atmosphere in which team members enjoy each other’s company at a social level as well as a business level.
Get in touch to arrange to talk about how I could work with you to help develop your leaders and managers and build exceptional teams in your business or organisation.
These observations, experiences and lessons are taken from my Exceptional Team Blueprint™ book which is available on Amazon here.
Share this post: