The Secrets to Effective Team Leadership. 17 Tips to Get You Started.

Beth Miller |

Business People Having Board Meeting In Modern Office

All successful teams have good leaders. While there are many nuances to leadership, what are some best practices you can follow to improve yours?

Research and common understanding demonstrates the crucial importance of communication in any relationship; it makes sense to first focus on how leaders should try to create a context where communication can occur. This way decisions can be made and goals achieved. To do this, they must put the team first and design an environment that inspires and enables teams to do their best work.

An article from MonsterThinking talks about four ways leaders can increase engagement through communications.

1. Encourage employees to be vocal. Each employee should feel comfortable and have plenty of opportunities to talk and communicate.

2. Promote honesty and accountability. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. And make sure you hold yourself and others to tasks assigned and goals desired.

3. Utilize performance reviews. The article also encourages leaders to have a conversation about engagement, something that HR Solutions’ Research Institute estimates only five percent of reviews include.

4. Convey mission and strategy. Not only the mission of the organization but also of the specific team goal.

Good leaders believe in their missions, and they believe in their people. A sense of camaraderie, or affiliation, within business relationships is something leaders should encourage. However, according to a 2008 study of 20 executive leadership teams, too much emphasis on positive relationships by the team leader can have a negative effect on team success. Managers should seek to find the right balance without pushing people to put their relationships above their jobs.

According to research by the American Psychological Association, four personal qualities distinguish excellent team leaders from average leaders. The last one contains good advice for leaders: The leader must act with courage and be willing to challenge group norms and disrupt established routines.

Achieving the right level of assertiveness may be one of the most common weaknesses holding leaders back, according to a 2007 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

In a Forbes interview, the widely known writer, thinker and lecturer Peter F. Drucker provides several best practices for team leaders.

1. They ask what needs to be done. “They don’t tackle things they aren’t good at. They make sure other necessities get done, but not by them,” he said.

2. They check their performance. They write down what they want to achieve, and then they check their performance against goals.

3. They are mission-driven. People know what they are trying to do.

4. They practice creative abandonment. They know when to stop pouring resources into something that is not working.

Here are a few more tips for team leadership success:

  • Align people with things they are passionate about.
  • Don’t provide all the answers. What do the employees think about the situation?
  • Don’t publicly blame someone for a problem.
  • Provide constructive criticism.
  • Let your team members know you trust them.
  • Don’t demonstrate how to do something – coach your team member to do it. 
  • Back off, let employees do their work and don’t become overly involved.
  • Strengthen the mix and level of skills.
  • Consider each and every idea that is brought forward by the group.

What best practices for team leaders do you think have the biggest impact? And, what would you add to the list?

Photo via Flickr user Victor1558

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Beth Miller

Beth Miller

Beth Armknecht Miller’s passion for learning, and dedication to helping others, are strands woven throughout her distinguished career, which continue to guide her work with Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. As a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer, Beth holds herself to a rigorous standard of excellence, and she encourages her clients to do the same when pursuing their goals.

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