When you’re tasked with leading a team, your responsibilities go beyond just making decisions. To be truly effective, you need to imbue your team members with great habits that enhance their chances of success in whatever endeavor they’re pursuing.
Whether you’re a founding partner of a large company, or just an employee who’s been assigned a leadership position for a small workgroup, you have the same basic responsibility: ensuring that your team goes above and beyond to complete the task at hand. Keeping your team focused, productive, and successful is important, no matter the size of the job.
In order to effectively lead a team, you need to leave your mark on its members. Effective leadership doesn’t entail working your team so hard that members are physically or emotionally affected. Rather, it means that at least part of each team member’s work process looks markedly different after their time under your leadership, proving that you’ve both set an example and inspired them to follow it.
So what should that example look like? Here are a few habits you should adopt while leading a team in order to make a positive impact on their work processes.
Be a Self-Motivator
Your employees will look to you for motivation — but who will push you? While you likely have your own boss, your team members will be able to tell the difference between a leader who’s following orders and one who’s truly taking initiative. Not only is that type of drive recognizable — it’s also contagious. If a team’s performance comes from the top down, a self-motivated leader fosters a self-motivated team.
Own Your Role
Everyone on the team has a role. As the leader, you need to make it clear that you’re in charge. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should be dominating or harsh — you don’t need to be authoritarian to have authority. However, you must hold team members accountable when they make mistakes or shirk their duties. Providing fair, measured, and confident leadership will make it clear to your team that you understand your role, and will encourage them to step into their own with the same dedication.
The only way to self-motivate and fully step into your role as a leader is to gain a better understanding of yourself. There’s nothing New Age or zen about it — just be aware of the things that help make your more productive and successful, and communicate them to your team. Make it clear that you understand how and why you want the work process to function in that way, and encourage them to think how they might work best.
Share for Success
In order for a team to be successful, there has to be an established level of trust. Team members need to know that they can count on each other, and like just about everything else, that starts at the top. To build trust, you need to engage in an honest exchange of information. Obviously, there will be certain matters that are best left unshared with the group generally, but if you’re prudent about sharing as much information with the team as possible, your coworkers will trust you enough to do the same.
Work with Care
Most of all, show your team members that there’s room to care about other people, even in the naturally competitive business world. According to the Harvard Business Review, leaders who show empathy and compassion to their teams significantly improve employee performance, engagement, and overall profitability. What’s more, a seminal research project at the University of New South Wales concluded that the best leaders strive to “understand people’s motivators, hopes and difficulties and to create the right support mechanism to allow people to be as good as they can be.”
Keep Your Leadership Sharp
These are all certainly great habits to have, but they only scratch the surface. To keep your leadership skills sharp, you need to stay motivated. Especially if you’re a high-level executive whose subordinates have management responsibilities themselves. You should consider hiring a professional leadership keynote speaker to teach them (and you) new and innovative ways to inspire work teams.
Speakers like Waldo Waldman, Liz Wiseman, and Mark Thompson all specialize in big ideas for leaders. A new set of positive work habits in your arsenal will benefit everyone in your organization — from the top all the way down.
Ken Sterling is the Chief Marketing Officer at BigSpeak Speakers’ bureau – the leading keynote and business speakers bureau in the world. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California and an MBA from Babson College. Ken teaches Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Strategy at UC Santa Barbara. He is a serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker, business consultant and sales & marketing expert. For press interviews, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Image credit: Salford University/flickr)