Effective Team Leadership: Where to Begin?

How to Be a Good Team Leader in 7 Key Steps
I want to be clear in saying that there’s no seven-step or 12-step or even 100-step formula that will automatically make you a brilliant leader… but for those wondering how to be a good team leader, there are some fundamentals that are worth getting down.

1. Know Your Team Leadership Style
The first step is self-assessment. Before you think about the needs of your team, think about the strengths and weaknesses you bring to the table. Think about how you like to receive information, and how you best communicate. Think about whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Ask yourself what really motivates you. And try to put together a basic picture of your team leadership style.

This shouldn’t just be busy work. I highly recommend spending a few days mulling these points, talking to people who know you well, and even trying to write down a clear vision of your team leadership style.

2. Effective Team Leaders Make Time to Lead
As a team leader, you already have a lot of responsibilities on your plate. It’s critical that you create time and opportunities for you to be visible to your team members, offering your support.

This might mean that you actually allocate some time in your planner or your Google Calendar to walk the floor, to have “office hours,” to take employees to lunch, or to do something else that allows you to invest time in the people you’re leading. Simply put, without that time investment, you’re just not going to have an effective team leadership style.

3. Know Your People
As you make the time to be engaged with your team, make sure you’re intentional about getting to know each one of them. In particular, try to determine what motivates each employee, and where each employee has strengths or weaknesses.

Team leadership often means assembling various pluses and minuses like puzzle pieces, pairing employees who make each other stronger or who make up for each other’s weaknesses. It also means knowing how to select the right person for any given role or project. All of this requires some real knowledge of the team.

4. Good Team Leaders Communicate
That one word is going to be so important to you in your role as a team leader. Indeed, for anyone who wants to know how to be a team leader in the workplace, I don’t think there’s anything more critical than being international in the way you communicate.

Set expectations. Be clear about your team’s mission and purpose. Let employees know how they can connect with you, and when. It’s always better to over-communicate than to under-communicate.

5. Leaders Set Examples
Even in those moments when you’re not actively communicating, you are being watched. Like it or not, your team members look to you as an example, and they will be quick to emulate your behavior.

Do you want to have a company culture that’s marked by a sense of balance? For your employees to clock out by six each afternoon so they can go home and be with their families? Then you need to make sure you’re not in the office at all hours of the night. Show them the kind of culture and the kind of values you want them to uphold.

6. Effective Team Leaders Delegate
Something else that all leaders need to do is delegate. Don’t assume you can do it all yourself. Trust the people around you to step up and to do great work, freeing some of your time to lead!

If you don’t trust your team members to do good work, or if you’re anxious about delegating to them, that’s a problem. Specifically, it’s a hiring problem. Simply put, if you can’t trust the people you’ve enlisted, then it’s hard to justify why they’re on your team at all. Learn to share your responsibilities with others, but also make sure you constantly surround yourself with good, stalwart people!

7.Effective Team Leaders Make Decisions
To be an effective team leader, you ultimately have to make some decisions. That doesn’t mean you should be impetuous. On the contrary, it’s always important to review the available data, do some critical thinking, and make a wise decision.

What you can’t do is agonize over every last decision that needs to be made, to the point where you’re simply wasting time. Sooner or later, you have to rip off the Band Aid and move forward with your decision and all its attending consequences. Sometimes you’ll get it right, and when you do, you should celebrate. And sometimes you’ll get it wrong. When you do, be sure to learn from it.

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