Many folks aspire to become team leaders but not everyone knows how to be an effective one. Being good at your job as an individual contributor does not necessarily mean you will be a good leader.
Leading a team is both challenging and fulfilling, and it is important to take the responsibility very seriously if you hope to be the type of boss that talented employees seek out. Whether you are an aspiring team leader, new supervisor, or seasoned people manager, here are 3 characteristics that will make you a successful leader.
Every effective leader delegates work. Just because your boss asks you to get something done, does not mean that YOU must be the one to execute.
Delegating work is an excellent way to improve efficiency, rightsize your workload, and give your team members impactful experience. To do this effectively, first consider who on your team has the bandwidth, would learn the most from the task, or would benefit from the exposure. Then once you’ve identified that team member, loop them into the assignment, and keep the following steps in mind:
Make it a regular practice to show your team members what type of assignments you are handling personally and proactively look for ways to let them help you whenever possible. Remember, you cannot assist your manager with their work if you are overloaded. Allowing your team to help you with selective tasks prepares them for the next level of their career and gives you the valuable cycles to assist your boss. This can also provide you with opportunities to volunteer for high profile stretch assignments that will increase your own exposure.
Every person on your team is a unique individual with unique communication styles. Effective leaders learn how to empower and motivate each team member to be successful. The success of a team often depends on how well the leader relates to their team members and how productively the team interacts amongst themselves.
Take the time to get to know your team. Learn what motivates them professionally, what career aspirations they have, how they handle pressure situations, what skills they need vs. want to develop, how they process new information, how they receive feedback, how they stay organized, how they prefer to communicate, etc.
Once you have learned about the individuals on your team, do some honest introspection to figure out your own personality style and communication preferences. The key is to grow a healthy self-awareness so that you can determine whether or not your own preferred method of interaction is the most receptive method for a team member. And when necessary, flex your style and adjust your behavior to reduce anxiety or tension in others and encourage them to collaborate effectively.
As a team leader, you will have opportunities to learn key information about your company’s strategy, performance, and culture by joining manager staff meetings, receiving emails from executive leadership, or participating in off-sites or workshops. Too often, team leaders hold on to important information and unintentionally neglect to communicate relevant company and department news to their teams.
Make a conscious effort to share any appropriate information with your team and spend time explaining how your team’s work efforts align with and contribute to the broader company strategies. Use good judgment about what and when to share. And if you’re not sure if a topic can be disseminated more widely, ask your boss or HR representative before communicating. Your team will appreciate the insights, become more productive in their roles, and feel more connected to the company. The larger the organization, the more critical this is.
Successful leaders harness the full capacity and expertise of their teams and create supportive work environments that attract and retain top talent. They enable their team members to accomplish amazing achievements while building new skills and competencies, obtaining positive exposure, and expanding the team’s influence. Good leaders also strive to improve continuously, and hopefully these tips help advance your own leadership development going forward.