Tips for Leading a Team

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Leadership can be difficult. Managing people with a variety of emotions, feelings and ideas can be overwhelming, and leaders often fear they won’t be respected or listened too. However, it can also be a rewarding experience. There are a variety of ways to improve your effectiveness as a team leader and to inspire confidence.

Don’t be a jerk
Most of us have encountered somebody in authority who is overbearing and driven by power. Don’t be one of those people for the sake of the people working for you. Being a leader isn’t about bossing people around. Fun as that may be for a while,  you are going to annoy your team members, and they will probably walk away from you when you need them the most.

Many leaders misuse their role by humiliating people in front of others. They also overly criticize small mistakes. This will only lead to people feeling unmotivated and an unproductive workplace. We all need to be treated with fairness and respect. The very concept of power is misleading when used in the context of a team or workforce. People don’t come to work to be driven into the ground by an obnoxious dictator. They come to work to make money, to be part of something bigger than themselves and to hopefully make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.

Treat people with respect
We all have the right to be treated with respect, and that is true of leadership. To be respected by our team, we need to return that same respect back to them.

People work better when given positive reinforcement. A kind word of encouragement for doing something well often inspires us to work harder, as opposed to negative reinforcement which can lead to resentment. Within your team, find the time to praise them for a job well done. Should mistakes be made, talk to the team or individuals as to the reasons why. Perhaps their skills are better used elsewhere, or maybe some training is needed. Consider finding inspiration, such as these customer service quotes.

Communicate effectively
Without proper communication, a team will fall apart. A leader doesn’t have to be an extrovert with a loud voice. They simply need to convey to others what is required of them and to listen in return.

As a leader, you probably have a vision for the future of the work in which you are involved. Share that with your team, ensuring they understand what is required of them individually and collectively in moving forward with you.

People often need a reason for doing something. When asking people to commit to a task, explain the importance as to why especially if it isn’t obvious at the outset.

Have regular meetings with your team, on an individual and group basis. These times are critical, not only for you to convey important information but also to listen to what others have to say. They have a voice too so let them use it. Use active listening skills, using your body language to show your interest in what they are saying, such as giving good eye contact. Genuinely listen to them, and don’t bide your time for them to stop talking so you can get your point across.

Respect the opinion of others. Not everything has to be seen from your point of view, so understand what others are trying to say. If you disagree, be honest and say so and explain the reasons why. Alternatively, if you agree, thank them and incorporate their ideas into the future of the work.

Appreciate individuals
There is nothing more frustrating when an employer can’t even be bothered to learn your name. As you get to know your team, make sure you do remember their name as well as other important details. For example, celebrate somebody’s birthday. Seemingly small gestures can make a big difference. 

Remember, you don’t have to be a friend to everybody on the team, and it is sometimes easier if you’re not. That doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate each person and take an interest in some aspect of their lives. We all need to feel cared for, especially at work.

Be humble
You might be the leader, but that doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. You are human, after all. When you mess up, it is better, to be honest, and own up to it, rather than keep quiet and hope nobody notices what you have done. Say sorry to those you have wronged and try to make amends. You might lose face for a short while, but you will ultimately gain respect for showing integrity.

You don’t need to know everything, either. If you are struggling with a work problem, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. For example, should you have an issue with your computer, somebody on your team may have the technical know how to help you.

Lead by example
Finally, but by no means least, be a good role model. It is no good asking your team to behave in a certain way if your behavior falls short of those standards. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and take on the menial tasks that other’s don’t like. Treat everybody with fairness, and they will do the same to you. Show initiative, and encourage others to do the same. Above all, inspire your team to be better, and with your example, they will be.


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