Building Effective Team Leaders: It Starts With You
Giving motivation and vision to each team member for them to become great team leaders isn’t something that can be “perfected,” but rather, a field for continuous improvement. But of course, to cultivate a successful team leader, you have to begin somewhere — and that’s within you.
Boss vs. Leader
If you want to be an effective and good leader, you need to understand that there’s a relevant difference between a boss and a leader. A boss focuses mainly on managing the entire team, while a servant leader inspires, motivates, and cultivates healthy working relationships within the team to achieve a shared goal.
Most organizations struggle on how to find effective team leaders and look for the key qualities of a great leader when they hire for management. They often ignore the fact that many leaders (the best ones) can be brought up or developed within existing employees.
The Importance of Leadership Skills
So why are leadership skills vital even for an employee who’s not in a management position?
A 2018 Global Leadership Forecast offers insight into the major concerns organizations have for the years to come. The top two concerns involved developing ‘Next Gen’ leaders and failure to attract or retain top talent. These two were cited more than twice as frequently as other concerns.
So when all is said and done, this supports the fact that the benefits of leadership development across the board aren’t something you should ignore. You’re on your way to becoming a successful leader yourself when you cultivate your team to be like you. Despite the misconception that “leaders are born and not created,” these crucial skills can be improved and taught.
The fact that cultivating leadership skills is possible is already reason enough to destroy the exclusivity surrounding leadership training and make it available to all across the organization.
Fundamentals of a Strong Leader
You can’t build good, strong leaders within your organization if you yourself don’t pay attention to how you lead the team. Although there are no guaranteed methods or formulas that’ll automatically turn you into a brilliant leader, there are fundamentals that are worth getting into.
1. Leadership Style
The first step is to assess yourself before thinking about the needs of your team. What are the strengths and weaknesses you bring to the organization? Consider how you communicate openly and give honest feedback, what motivates you, or address feedback. Put together a basic idea of your team leadership style.
Try to spend a few days in contemplation of these points. Seek feedback from people who know you well and write down a clear vision of how you should lead.
An effective team leader makes time to lead. Although you have plenty of responsibilities on your plate, it’s important that you create time to be visible to your team members and offer them support.
Even if you’re busy, allocate time in your schedule to walk the floor, take the team to lunch, or do anything else that lets you invest time in the people you’re leading. Without time investment, you won’t have an effective team leadership style.
3. Knowledge of the Team
The best leaders know their team well. As you spend time engaging with your team, make sure to also be intentional about getting to know each of them. Try to figure out what motivates each and where every one of them has strengths or weaknesses.
Leading a team often involves assembling different puzzle pieces, pairing team members who make each other stronger and make up for each one’s weaknesses. It also means selecting the right individual for any role or project, and this requires you to have real knowledge of your team.
A good team leader knows how to communicate. There’s nothing more critical than being able to communicate your thoughts well.
The best team leaders set clear expectations for the team. They’re clear about the teams, vision, mission, and purpose. Let your team members know how they can connect with you regarding any concerns and when. Remembers, it’s better to over-communicate than to under-communicate.
Successful leaders are constantly being watched, even in times when they’re not actively communicating with the team. The team look up to you as an example and will be quick to emulate your behaviour.
Are you looking into having a healthy, well-balanced company culture? For everyone to clock out on time and go home to spend time with their families or loved ones? Then, you have to be an example and make sure you’re not still in the office late at night. Show your team the kind of culture and values you want them to uphold.
You Can’t Do It All
It’s hard to do everything by yourself. This is why it’s important to trust your team and delegate tasks so that you have time to lead.
If you can’t trust your people enough to do good work, that’s a BIG problem, specifically a recruitment problem. Simply put, if you can’t trust the individuals you’ve placed for the job, then you’re wasting resources by doing the work yourself.
Learn to share responsibilities. But most importantly, surround yourself with employees with the potential to become good team leaders in the future.