Updated: Jun 4, 2019
Becoming a team leader is often people’s first experience of management responsibility. With many team leaders being promoted from within the team because they were good team members, they face a challenging time and sadly are given no supporting training and development in that role, setting them up to fail.
How can we develop good team leader qualities? What makes a good team leader?
And what are the characteristics of a team leader that get results today?
Below are 5 key qualities to be mindful of for outstanding and effective team leaders:
The qualities of a good team leader
Recognising the Value of Your Team Members A common mistake among newly-promoted team leaders is to throw their weight around as if they know it all. The usual result is that they rub their team up the wrong way before realising they need their cooperation to achieve the objectives. Showing that you respect the skills, knowledge and contribution your team members make is a sure way to earn their respect. So, one of the qualities of a good team leader is to work with your team and value their input. Allowing your team members to have a voice is imperative, as well as encouraging them to challenge both yourself and each other.
The Team Making Decisions That Affect Them & Being Accountable Making all decisions unilaterally rather than consulting your staff will often be unpopular especially when it involves major changes to the way they work. Each team leader or manager will have a way they prefer to work. Before making any changes consider how these changes may affect people. One of the qualities a team leader can develop is ensuring their team understand the implications of the changes and don’t just arbitrarily introduce them. Therefore, as the head of the team, ensure that everyone understands the WHY behind decisions and that this is communicated clearly to gain buy-in. A team that are responsible for making their own decisions will also learn to be far more accountable to each other.
Listen When individuals in the team are not happy they can sometimes be vocal in expressing their dissatisfaction. Rather than view this as a direct challenge to your authority, take the time to listen rather than become defensive. This quality of a team leader will endear them to their team members. Learning to listen will help you to diffuse potentially explosive situations. It enables people to express their frustration and then calm down and speak more reasonably. This doesn’t mean that you as a team leader have to agree with everything they say but it does mean that you make the effort to understand. Regular 1:1 meetings with your team members is paramount to you allowing them “clear space” to express any concerns they may have, share ideas and also points of view on things. It’s sadly a dynamic that many team leaders overlook, or they find it acceptable to move these meetings from the diary, sending a very negative message to the employee. Finding time to really listen to your reports is one of the most important things you can do.
Be Their Role model One sure way to demonstrate your commitment to the role is to show what you can do. This means being a good role model for your team in terms of what you expect yourself in terms of behaviour and acting with the utmost integrity at all times. Having been recognised as a strong team member, it is worth remembering to show your skills to your colleagues without being arrogant. This will help to reinforce your authority as well as having the title. This quality of a team leader will help your team members see how they can emulate your example in everything they do. However, do not fall into the trap of thinking in order to be a great leader, you have to know all the ins and outs of everyone’s job……you have to be the leader, NOT the technician
Being Prepared to Be Accountable One thing that unites us all as human beings is our capacity to make mistakes. Just because you are now the team leader it doesn’t mean this will stop. Of course, you will try harder not to make them, when it does happen be ready to admit them. This will enable your team to retain their own self-esteem when it happens to them knowing that it is okay to be open with these things. Playing the ‘blame game’ will only mean that any future mistakes are hidden away possibly leading to far greater problems in the future. Finger pointing only achieves one thing and that is a culture of blame and a total lack of accountability. This is probably one of the key qualities you can develop as a team leader. It will encourage your team to admit to their mistakes too and encourage them to put quality first. It’s also about encouraging the team to FAIL and making it OK to do so. We learn more from failing than we ever do from success.
Becoming a team leader can be quite daunting and it could potentially turn you into a bossy annoying tyrant. The qualities of a team leader we have shared here will help you develop the necessary skills to get the best from yourself and others. Bear these qualities in mind and you will develop skills and behaviours for your future.
There are many ways we can help you to develop world class skills as a team leader…..want to know more?
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