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How to be an Effective Team Leader

I have been a part of many different teams. Sports teams, learning group teams in school, executive teams and more. I love teamwork. There is countless research showing that when people work in teams, production goes up, efficiencies improve, and results increase. Teamwork builds camaraderie and fosters a trusting environment. It help builds and establish organizational values and culture. Simply stated, effective teamwork leads to success. It is important for today’s leaders to know how to effectively manage teams and get the most out of teamwork. There are many techniques into managing teams. Macro-motivation practices help and gamification is sure to improve competition but the key to team management is in managing individuals and not the team. Managing individuals starts with building a relationship with each individual member of the team, setting individual goals that coincide with the team objectives, and meeting with them consistently.

Building a Relationship

Relationships are the essence of leadership. Without genuine relationships, it is difficult to influence people. Sure, you can direct and give orders. But if you want real development in someone, build a relationship and influence them to make their own decisions. Learn about each member of the team. Learn what motivates them. Learn how their strengths and weaknesses. And most important, learn what they don’t like. If they don’t like public recognition, don’t do it. If they don’t like bullet point emails, don’t send them. People will remember when you do things they don’t like more than when you do things that they like.

Set Individual Goals

We all need to be better at setting goals. Some are great goal setters, most people are not. Sure, we have daily task lists and ideas of what we want to get done. But do we have goals? Do we have short and long term objectives that we are building up to? An effective team leader helps the individuals on the team set good goals that coincide with the overall team objectives. They help individuals set short and long term goals that are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-related). They teach individuals why setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is important and the team leader helps hold them accountable to the deadlines on those goals.

Meeting with Them Consistently

The most important thing an effective team leader can do is meet with the individual team members on a consistent basis. I find having a short weekly meeting (15-20 minutes) and then a longer monthly meeting (30-45 minutes) produces the best results. This allows for constant communication and feedback as well as guidance. The team leader can recognize a problem in its early stages and help the individual course correct before things get out of hand. And remember, there is power in routine. However you choose to hold your meetings (whether weekly, monthly, or both), stay consistent in your meetings. If possible, never miss them. Always put them as a priority. Your team will feel more appreciated when you give them dedicated time and attention every week or month.

Being the team leader is hard. It is emotionally taxing. It is time-consuming. It is very difficult. This is probably why so many people struggle at it. Effective team leadership is something every business needs to invest in. If the team leader is willing to build relationships with the members of their team, help them set goals, and meet with them on a regular basis, they will be successful. Even if it is 15 minutes a week. That dedicated time goes a long way.

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