Are you wondering how to lead a team effectively? When it comes to leading a team, it’s not simply about telling people what to do and when to do it.
Succeeding in leading effective teams demands character, charisma, and of course, vision.
These things will influence others to choose to follow you — with an emphasis on choice.
If you want to learn how to be an effective team leader, you should first accept the fact that you can’t just barge into the workplace and demand respect or attention.
To lead a team successfully, you should avoid turning the process of work into something that’s compulsory.
Instead, focus on achieving voluntary followership as this will lead to greater things, better output, and improved productivity.
How to Lead a Team Effectively
1. Attract Followership
The ability to lead a team starts with developing the ability to attract the right followers.
As a leader, you have to evoke a certain sense of compassion, understanding, and confidence.
This, in turn, will help encourage people to feel more confident in going with your direction.
Communicate your goals clearly and why your proposed direction will help lead the team to the desired outcome.
Make sure you explain all the details and strategies involved.
When your employees become voluntary followers the next part of leading teams effectively is empowering the employees/followers under your wing.
Apart from giving them direction, make sure that you also allow them to have their inputs on the process.
You provide the framework for the job at hand and they should be able to work from there.
Remember: You’re in a team so, work with the team. This is what effective team-leading is all about.
Effective team-leading takes employees on a journey to become voluntary followers.
The next step is to develop your team into becoming self-starters — the kinds of employees who can take directions and use their own instincts, expertise, and knowledge to follow through.
You don’t want people whom you have to keep a close eye on. But you shouldn’t be someone who breathes down people’s necks, either.
Attracting followership is not only about empowering people to do their work properly.
It’s also about instilling a certain level of confidence in people that will drive them to do better work every day.
This means showing them that they are trusted to do a task and demonstrating that you can be trusted to protect their welfare at work.
It’s about ensuring stability — something that most managers ignore, causing good people to leave for greener pastures.
2. Be Accountable, Trustworthy, and Rewarding
Leading effectively is about building trust and being accountable as a manager — being accountable for any bumps in the road and proactively addressing these to find the best solution.
A good leader doesn’t automatically resort to blaming other people on the team. Instead, his time is used to assess the situation, analyze it, and resolve the issue.
In line with trustworthiness, a good leader is trusted by his employees to have this mindset when problems arise.
They trust him not to resort to punishment if they account for mistakes that occur even with well-thought-out plans and well-founded risks.
On the other hand, rewarding excellent efforts is another important part of leading effectively.
Recognizing one’s contribution to the success of a project is important.
It further empowers people.
When employees ask what’s in it for them, this is a great way for you to address this question and further encourage your staff to give it their all when a new task comes.
There’s always a fine balance between risks and rewards when it comes to working.
Part of effective team leadership is ensuring that both are properly addressed and recognized.
A good leader is always honest about these.
Being trustworthy in this sense makes for excellent, performing, and satisfied employees.
3. Use Communication and Strategy
As mentioned, great leaders are able to communicate well.
This doesn’t only apply to the directions or purpose per project but extends to all important details that their employees have to know to deliver the right output.
Understanding the bigger picture matters and great leaders recognize and validate this need.
Apart from relaying valuable information to their teammates, they also have the responsibility to comprehend why the company is pursuing such projects and implementing specific strategies.
For their workers to find meaning in what they do, their managers also have to find meaning in the task.
This ensures that all parties will be able to perform with their best feet forward.
4. Navigate Being a Boss And a Leader
In most occasions, team leaders are company managers.
But there are times when they are the owners, founders, or CEOs.
In such cases, becoming a great leader becomes even more of a challenge as positional power enters the picture.
Developing the ability to combine the positive elements of position with effective leadership qualities will make you a force to be reckoned with.
In this case, your answer to the question of how to lead effectively starts with not using your position irresponsibly.
As a business owner, you have the ability to generate even more respect from your employees — but this comes with more responsibility on your end.
It can help magnify their trust and confidence in you or go the other way, depending on how you act.
Keep in mind that leading effective teams comes with the premise of having people follow you for years — provided that you give them enough reason to do so.
Usually, leaders lose followers when their directions stop making sense.
Maintain value and establish purpose in every project and you’ll be good to go.
Regardless of your position in the business, never forget that apart from your ability to lead a team successfully, your ability to contribute to the project will help strengthen people’s faith in you.
As long as you have a positive impact on the job at hand, you’ll be someone that employees will want and choose to follow, learn from, and work with.
5. Navigate Managing a Team
There are certain skills that you have to develop over time if you want to succeed continuously when it comes to leading a team effectively.
Remember that whatever your team does, creates, or delivers will be a reflection of your leadership, so make sure that everything runs smoothly, seamlessly, and successfully.
The core skills of being an effective leader will help you bring people with different insights, expertise, and work ethics together.
In order to be an effective leader, you have to understand the difference between leadership and management.
When you manage a project, you make sure that all the right processes are adhered to.
When you lead a team on a project, you ensure that everyone does the right thing, even if it means taking risks against traditional protocol.
As a manager, you have a distinct set of rules and practices that you encourage your people to follow.
Being the leader, you make sure that clear directions are available yet you allow your employees to address their professional responsibilities in the best ways they know how.
More so, you should form a vision and communicate it well enough so that it’s achieved at the end of the project.
You help your employees understand and commit to it.
As a manager, you’re tasked to effectively implement such directives.
But don’t take this as giving managers a bad rap.
Actually, if you want to learn how to lead effectively, you have to embrace both the roles of manager and leader.
Even with an impeccable, awe-inspiring vision in mind, you won’t achieve anything if there’s something lacking in the implementation process.
Why hire people who are great at what they do if you won’t allow them to share their expertise with the business?
Delegation is necessary and great leaders find value in it.
It’s not simply about asking someone to work on a task.
It’s about giving the right task to be fulfilled by the right people.
As a manager and/or leader, there’s only so much you can personally handle.
Part of working in a team is allowing other members to contribute and assist you in reaching your end goal successfully.
By delegating tasks, you can achieve so much more within the given time frame.
By using experts in their respective fields, you can achieve a better output overall.
As mentioned, part of team-leading is assigning the right jobs to the best people.
This is why you need to understand the people you work with; know their strengths and weaknesses.
Think about every member’s competencies, skills, possible contributions, and the like.
If you find any gaps in their skill set, this is where you as the manager and leader should be able to step in.
A good way to go about this is to create a charter for projects you want to execute.
This charter will talk about the project, the purpose of the team, and how each team member will function.
Having a well-designed charter will not only help you get everyone on the same page at the beginning.
It will also help you bring employees back to the purpose of the project should they veer away from directives at any point during the process.
It cannot be emphasized enough.
You have to constantly motivate your team to perform well.
Yes, they are being paid for their time but this doesn’t mean that they don’t find value in the occasional pat on the back.
You’d be surprised by the powerful effect of recognition on an employee.
When it comes to motivation, there are two approaches that you can use to ensure effective team leadership.
One is for employees whom you think are inherently lazy.
The task here is to amp them up to perform.
Give them a reason to exert more effort in their work.
Make sure that they understand their purpose and role in the project and let them know that their contributions matter.
The other approach is motivating workers that excel.
In this case, your approach should be geared more towards recognition.
For people who already give it their best effort, there is power in acknowledging this effort to push them further.
So every time they meet a particular milestone, make sure that you let them know how excellent of an achievement that is.
Keep in mind that the more motivated your people are, the more empowered and confident they will feel.
As a result, they’ll trust you more and strive to do better work each and every day.
In the end, this will result in outstanding outputs for your team and company.
8. Develop Your Team
Teams consist of people with varying interests and different insights, expertise, and work ethics.
Some may find certain tasks challenging.
Others may need more motivating than the rest. As the leader, it’s your job to unite them to achieve the same end goal regardless of these differences.
Your people may be looking for a diverse range of opportunities and you should be able to figure out what these are and successfully ensure the development of every single one.
One of the marks of a great leader is the ability to make employees better than when they started.
This will actually make you someone people will aspire to work with, work for, and mentor them.
Some of the ways to develop your people include giving them feedback on their work.
Regular feedback can help them progress and change certain habits for more effective ones.
Just make sure that you deliver these in a professional yet sincere manner.
Even if the feedback is negative, share it anyway as this will help the person improve.
By knowing where he/she went wrong, he/she can make the necessary adjustments moving forward.
Leading teams is not just about barking orders; it’s about two- or even three-way communications.
In this case, it’s not just about communicating with your team members but also effectively communicating with people outside the team.
Ample communication skills matter in all aspects of life.
In business, it’s essential regardless of your role.
Compared to regular employees, managers and leaders need to level up their game when it comes to this.
For one, your ability to lead a team will also depend on how well you communicate directives with the group.
The same goes for those outside of the team — the other people you need to work with to fulfill a project.
Within the team, make sure that there are regular group meetings and one-on-one meetings if necessary.
Keep these short and concise.
This ensures that you don’t waste valuable time.
Make time for brainstorming sessions.
As the leader, it’s your job to facilitate these and keep the ball rolling at all times.
This is what effective leadership is all about.
Aside from talking the talk and walking the walk, make time to listen to your employees as well.
Again, this is not a one-way street.
Getting the input of others can potentially improve your project’s outcome.
Be open to new ideas, more effective processes, and other contributions.
Active listening doesn’t only open doors to better ideas.
It also helps you avoid misunderstandings early on in the process.
Remember that you’re working with professionals so value what they have to say.
Doing so will also empower them — another important component of leadership earlier mentioned.
When it comes to communicating with those outside of your team, make sure that you understand what it is they want or need.
In particular, when you’re talking to a CEO, ask about expectations so that you can manage these within your team.
Also, ensure that you deliver comprehensive reports as often as needed.
This is essential when it comes to understanding how to be an effective team leader — being accountable and responsible.
When you are able to communicate well with all parties involved, you can protect your people from any unnecessary pressures that come with project deliverables and expectations.
This will help them focus more on the tasks at hand and allow them to deliver better outcomes.
This may be one of the most challenging parts of becoming a leader.
For most people, they try to avoid it completely but failing to discipline a problematic team member can easily be a detriment to any project.
If you want to master effective team leadership, you must be able to tell an employee that he is wrong, why he’s wrong, and how the situation can be improved.
Problems can range from phone etiquette to attendance.
There are things like breaches in protocols that are easy to spot and address; others need more observation.
But the bottom line is that you can’t let any of this slide, as these slights directly affect the work.
Sometimes, they can also affect the team dynamic.
Finally, leading a team successfully involves many variables.
Follow the guidelines above and you will be on your way to success.