Leading a team can be hard work. Trust me, I know! But people much smarter than myself accomplish “hard” tasks all the time. It tends to come down to a few key traits that make these leaders shine above all others. These traits include confidence, patience and a keen ability to make decisions. Teams are rarely motivated by a dictator who simply tells them what to do.
We all know our basic job descriptions and, generally, what our purpose is within the larger FAMily. It is when we are viewed as trusted members of a team, however, that we can truly begin to feel empowered and engaged within our individual roles. Part of this engagement starts with asking team members for their opinions or advice on how to tackle a problem, rather than simply instructing them to solve for X. This type of management style makes all participants feel valued and involved, rather than interchangeable.
An admirable manager will not just ask questions, but will listen to responses as well. You cannot receive valuable input from your team if your ears and mind remain closed. This type of feedback loop also builds confidence within your team as they observe the response received from suggestions that came directly from them. This will motivate individuals to participate more, coming up with proactive solutions rather than waiting to be told a problem exists. These questions can also be interpreted as a challenge to the team, who is now tasked with finding the best solution, versus being told what to do.
Of course, none of this can transpire if the team manager isn’t an effective leader. This, too, involves confidence and self-editing, as it falls upon the team manager to decipher just what the problem is, what questions will motivate and engage his or her team and how they can all come to a cohesive plan of action as one part of a larger FAMily.
An engaging team leader will present their own ideas, while welcoming questions and the ideas of others. They can then decide upon a plan of attack that may be subject to change as the situation evolves. Leaders should also be able to identify problems that may pop up along the outlined route, once again asking their team for suggestions as to how they can navigate these speedbumps.
Through all of this, an effective team leader should make sure all members walk away feeling that their points were heard and understood, and that they heard and understood the points of others, regardless of the ultimate outcome. Time should always be allowed for all team members to express opinions, concerns and questions, though the team leader should ultimately decide upon the final strategy based on everyone’s input and his or her own experience in the matter.
Remember, how you react to your team is completely in your control. If you approach your team with confidence, diplomacy, an open mind, and a willingness to listen and possibly change direction, it is more likely than not that you will have a winning brigade on your hands that is happy to go into battle with you any time and any place. Make sure your army is one worth getting behind.