How to be an effective Team Leader

We’ve likely all had experiences with good leaders and not-so-good leaders in our personal lives and careers. In business, there is so much to being an effective team leader. In order to lead a team of employees or contractors to achieve exceptional results, it is equally as if not more important to be a good listener than it is to be an enforcer. Communication skills are critical, and a positive attitude is important. It is also essential that you set the highest possible standards for your employees or contractors, as their maximum effort will tend to be at the lowest standard that you set for them. Here are my views on what attributes make for an excellent and effective team leader in business management:

Communication Skills:

It goes without saying that a leader must be able to communicate their vision to their team in order to achieve any results whatsoever. Moreover, the format and style by which a leader communicates to their team is important too. To communicate most effectively to your team, it helps to “learn their language”. I put “learn their language” in quotation marks because I mean you should understand what format and style of communications resonate best with them and will be most easily understood. (If, however, you don’t in fact speak the language of your direct reports, that’s a subject for another blog post).

How do you “learn the language” of a given employee? Simple — ask them! There is nothing wrong with simply asking a team member: “How should I best communicate with you? E-mail? Phone call? Text message?” In this day and age, there is no (good) reason to shy away from using such quick communication channels as text messages to enable swift communication. I wouldn’t, however, recommend sending important legal documents or escalation messages via text message — these are better served in the formality of an email.

Understanding the personality type and education level of your team members is important too. Perhaps you have a teammate who has a big personality and a fun sense of humor — in my opinion, an effective way to communicate with such an employee would be to open the conversation with a light joke or at least a smile. To approach such an employee with a hyper-corporate or uptight attitude might not resonate very well with them. On the flip side, if you recognize an employee as a shy, introverted person with an analytical inclination, maybe you could keep meetings with them neutral and to the facts. Moreover, when sending out general communications to your team, it is crucial that you tailor the content to the lowest education level in your team, in order to make sure that everyone understands the information equally, the first time. For instance, if you know that one person in your team has no formal educational background in business, it is probably worth your extra 5 seconds to spell out “Net Present Value” rather than assuming they understand the acronym NPV.

Be Grateful:

How long does it take and how much does it cost you to say “Thank You” to your teammates every so often? Virtually nothing. How much more enjoyable does this make your workplace to your employees? Perhaps a lot more than you think!

Expressing gratitude to your teammates for a job well done is an excellent and cost-effective way to reinforce positive behavior, generate healthy internal competition, and lighten the stress levels of your business. Based on my observations and personal experiences as a manager and an employee, leaders who thank their teams for good performances achieve better results on the bottom line.

Demand High Standards:

Communicating interactively and being grateful are characteristics of  a great leader, but being tough on enforcing high standards is critical as well. Many employees will perform to the minimum standard that their boss sets for them. Therefore, it is imperative that you as a leader are performing to your absolute maximum at all times. If you forget to stock a shelf at a retail store, don’t expect your employees to remember. If you aren’t engaging with your customers in an energetic, positive manner, don’t expect your employees to do so! Demand high standards from your team, and escalate as necessary if they are not performing to standard.

Be Present:

Unless your starting an e-commerce business from your laptop, your very presence as a leader is powerful. And presence means more than just being physically on site — you need to be engaged in your team’s work and serve as a team player as well as a leader. The result of this presence is that you get a chance to monitor employee performance and customer feedback, and you gain the respect of your team by showing them that you can execute the work that you’re asking them to do too.

You might discover, for instance, that an employee is consistently late for his shifts or that they’re disengaged and not enthused while at work. This is valuable Intel as it allows you to follow up with them and thus improve your business. Moreover, you might notice a pattern in consumer shopping patterns. Perhaps every customer overlooks a certain display in your retail store that you were hoping to promote,  or your customers are of a different demographic than you would have otherwise assumed by not being present. These are all crucial data points for your business development and strategic planning.

Employees tend to gain respect for their boss when their boss shows them that they can do the work tasks that they are being asked to do on the job. It shows a team player spirit and humility. This respect is invaluable in getting your team to work hard to help you achieve your business goals.

Conclusion:

In summary, the above mentioned characteristics are great soft skills for any team leader to hone. These attributes will earn you loyalty from staff members, and help you drive boosted sales and operational efficiency.

If you have any questions or any further suggestions, please let me know by Leaving a Reply below!

Follow me on Twitter @bizmgmtblog.

Thanks,

Dylan

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6 thoughts on “How to be an effective Team Leader

  1. Regarding ‘Thank you’ – up until I started my most recent job I never got managers thanking me for what I had done, little things, big things – absolutely nothing.

    In my current job I remember the first time I got thanked I almost blushed a bit. I had no idea how to take a complement. As I stayed with the organisation I continued to get more and more compliments, I realised that the best way of handling was just saying “thank you” back or saying “Anytime… just let me know if you need anymore help”.

    Now I absolutely love getting complements – it’s a mutually beneficial relationship, everytime I get a thank you it encourages me to keep working harder and doing a better job. As I continue to do a better job I got more compliments, until I got to a point where I was promoted!

    The funny thing is I am loyal to my organisation, no matter – even through the hard times (and there is a lot of them), whereas everywhere I worked when things got bad, I just wanted to leave. I am not saying that it is just from people saying thank you, there are other reasons for my loyalty, but people appreciation of what I have done is defintley a major motivator!

    – James

    Liked by 1 person

    1. James,

      Thanks for reading the article all the way through and for sharing it on Twitter! It’s very much appreciated! Nice to connect with you.

      I’m glad to hear that your recent manager has been good at positively reinforcing your efforts. It’s nice to hear you validate my comments from personal experience. Thanks for sharing your comment, and keep in touch!

      Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or if I can help you out in any way.

      – Dylan

      Liked by 1 person

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