Successful organizations need successful team leaders, but some managers may not demonstrate a high level talent for managing staff, meaning the vast majority are not skilled leaders.
Your company depends on you to be the rare, high-quality exception. If you're wondering how to become a leader or just looking for a refresher on ways to improve, these tips will help you get there.
Traits of a Successful Leader
Before looking at ways to improve your management skills, let's consider the personality traits that show up in the best leaders:
If you believe in your mission and future success, that confidence will inspire your employees as well.
A good leader keeps their team working hard, even during tough weeks when things aren't going well.
A Willingness to Delegate
One of the hardest parts of leadership is passing off work to others that you could do better yourself. But you only have so many hours in a day, so you need to be willing to delegate. Plus, giving your staff a chance is the only way they'll learn and grow into their roles.
Employees appreciate a cooperative team leader, one that treats them with respect during disagreements and challenging situations.
If you aren't treating employees equally, that can kill workplace morale. Employees should count on being recognized for their work while any disciplinary action should be consistent. A successful team leader doesn't play favorites.
There's a lot to manage in a growing company. You need to keep track of all your different objectives and since resources are limited, set priorities for what your group should focus on.
It's discouraging for employees to see a leader with a “do as I say, not as I do" attitude. Instead, make sure to hold yourself to the same standards as your employees.
7 Tips to Help Become a Good Team Leader
1. Be generous with praise.
Giving verbal praise costs you nothing but can make a major difference for motivating your employees. Don't wait until big wins to say something. Anytime you see an employee working hard or trying something new, make sure they're recognized.
2. Set measurable goals and performance benchmarks.
Your staff should know exactly what they need to accomplish to succeed at your organization. If promotions and raises are not tied to a clear result, frustrated employees may look elsewhere to advance their careers.
Instead, set measurable goals for performance, like number of sales or a reduction customer service wait times. Regularly schedule reviews to discuss these results and show how employees can do even better.
3. Communicate clearly.
You're the voice of your organization. Employees need to know what you expect them to do and more importantly why they are doing it. Be sure to connect your goals and assignments to your overall company mission. To do this more effectively, put time aside each month to work on your spoken, written and active listening skills.
4. Involve your team in decisions.
As you figure out strategy and next steps, involve your employees in the decision. Not only could they offer valuable insight, they may then feel more buy-in with what you ultimately decide, as opposed to them just receiving orders from the top down.
5. Lead by a good example.
As the head of the company, you have the power to break the little rules around the office. But should you? It's discouraging for employees to see a leader with a “do as I say, not as I do" attitude. Instead, make sure to hold yourself to the same standards as your employees. Whether it's showing up on time, responding to emails promptly or being polite around the office, your employees may then follow your lead.
6. Take an interest in your staff.
A good leader not only gets to know their employees in terms of what they can deliver at work, but also who they are as people. You could make this a team-building exercise, where everyone shares a funny childhood story or their hobbies outside of work. When you treat employees as people rather than cogs in a machine, they can be more loyal to your organization.
7. Don't be afraid of the dirty work.
Taking a little time to pitch in around the office can help make a good impression on your employees, whether it's cleaning up after a meeting, bringing a dish to a company party or watering the office plants. If there's a tough job to be done, like breaking bad news to a customer, don't avoid your share of the criticism. With these actions, you help to show that the company comes before everyone, including those at the top.
Figuring out how to become a leader isn't just one action. It's a mindset shift. By understanding the necessary traits and using these strategies, you can become one of those quality leaders that the workforce desperately needs.
Photo: Getty Images