Being a leader isn’t for everyone. Some people, it seems, are natural born leaders while others aren’t. If you find yourself in a leadership position or you want to be a team leader, the following tips will help you improve your skills and get great results.
#1 Ask Questions
The best leaders know that they don’t have all the answers. So rather than pretending they do have the answers, they ask questions. They ask a lot of questions. You are the leader of a team and each member of your team brings with them valuable insight, experience, knowledge and skills.
A good leader embraces this resource and leverages it to build on their own knowledge and to make the project or experience the best that it can be. To be a better leader, pay attention to how often you ask your team members questions. And we’re not talking about questions like, “Are you going to meet the deadline?” Rather, we’re talking about questions like “What do you think is the best tool for this portion of the project?”
#2 Listen to the Answers
Asking questions is the first step. But it’s not the last nor is it the most important. It is also important to listen to what your team members have to say. Sit back and give them time to speak and to express their thoughts without judgment. When your team feels comfortable speaking up and they feel as if their input is valued, you’re going to get amazing results. Not only will they feel like they’re a valuable part of the group, they’ll put forth more effort and energy.
Good leaders know that to get the best out of their team, they have to respect and trust them and communicate that trust. The easiest way to communicate your trust for your team is to listen to what they have to say. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to go with their opinion, but valuing it and hearing it is important.
#3 Encourage Creativity and Innovation
Some of the best work can come from a new idea that you never thought about. Encourage your team members to be creative and to express their ideas. Consider hosting brainstorming sessions to help set the tone for this type of work and leadership environment. No idea is a bad idea. Work through every suggestion as a group.
#4 Create Accountability
One of the most difficult parts of being a leader is finding the management balance. If you have the slightest tendency to micromanage, then you have room for improvement. Micromanagement causes you a great deal of unnecessary stress. It also tells your team that you don’t really trust them to do their job.
To find this balance, create systems of accountability. For example, you might utilize a project management system where there are milestones and team members are accountable to one another to get their portion completed. One team member cannot start on their portion of the project until the other has finished their work and met their deadline.
Supporting your team through accountability systems and making them accountable to one another and to the team as a whole, removes you from the management process. You can then, instead, function as a leader and guide your team to do their best.
#5 Let Go
Accountability systems support you to step back from the management role. But that isn’t always so easy. You may still find yourself checking in, following up to see if things are getting done on time and the way you want them to. If this is you, you can become a better leader by implementing a system where your team comes to you.
You might, for example, hold weekly status update meetings. Everyone on your team can inform the others of where they are, if they’re having any issues and any new thoughts or ideas they might have about the project.
#6 Leverage Strengths
Make the most of your team by learning what their strengths are and leveraging them. You may be surprised at what some of your team members know and can accomplish. Encourage them to embrace their strengths and use them to help the team succeed.
This step takes a lot of observation, listening, and good communication on your part. It’s an ongoing process and one that can take time. If you want to be a better leader, acknowledging, encouraging, and inspiring your team is one of the most important things you can do.
#7 Be Passionate
Imagine coming into a project where the leader of the project seems like they’d rather be anywhere else. Not good, right? Conversely, imagine coming into a project where the leader is excited, motivated, and passionate about the project. Both emotions – passion and disinterest, impact the team.
As a leader, you can motivate your team by showing your excitement about the project and working with them. If you are not excited about the project, find a reason to be excited about it. You lead by example; so, when you focus on the positives, your team will too.
#8 Follow Through – Walk Your Talk
You set the tone for the team. That means, if you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you have rules and processes that you want team members to follow, you too must follow them. This is important. Leaders lead through example.
#9 Educate Yourself
Continuing education is important for any professional. As a team leader, it’s even more important for you. Continuing education means that you’ll be able to bring new ideas and tools to your team. It also means that you will be able to keep up with your team members who may also be learning new things.
Books, classes, workshops, conferences and seminars are all education options. You can also look into finding a mentor who can help you not only learn more about your industry but also learn more about becoming a better leader.
#10 Express Thanks
Let your team know that you value them. Acknowledge their successes, their input, and their contribution to the team. A thank you and some public, and private, recognition go a long way toward building a strong team that trusts and respects you and will work hard toward your goals and vision.
If you’re in the role of a leader, embrace it. Work hard to get the best from your team. These ten tips will help you improve your skills while you improve your team’s results.