There are several essential skills required to become a great team leader. Let’s take a look at the five most important.
It goes without saying that great team leaders need leadership skills. But what does that look like in reality? To start, you need to accept responsibility for your own performance and that of your team. Team members need to trust that you’ll support them even when things aren’t going well.
Taking accountability for outcomes, good and bad, is an essential trait for a good leader. Celebrating success allows your team members to feel proud of their achievements. Apologizing for mistakes shows your team that errors aren’t something to be feared. Indeed, they can be a catalyst for improvement. Fostering a growth mindset inspires team members to seek opportunities for professional development. It also helps them become more resilient to change.
To be a successful leader, you also need empathy. The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes helps you connect on a human level. Building and maintaining effective working relationships is crucial for great team leaders.
Effective communication skills are vital for good team leaders. Most organizations still utilize a hierarchical structure. So communications are disseminated from the top down via team leaders. Managers need to be able to consolidate all the information streams and distill the key messages into something accessible for their team.
Team leaders also need to be able to clearly explain company goals and team goals. They need to be able to paint a picture that inspires the team to high performance. Team leaders need to help each team member understand how their work contributes to the overall organizational mission.
When team members don’t meet expectations, team leaders need to offer appropriate feedback. Constructive feedback clearly articulates what standard wasn’t met and what needs to change for the future. It should also explain how the team member will be supported to improve.
Great team leaders need to be highly effective decision-makers. They need to be able to think critically to narrow down available options and make the best choice. Good team leaders are able to digest information quickly. They’re then well-placed to make informed decisions rapidly, even in an uncertain environment.
The best team leaders keep the needs of the business at the forefront of their minds. Sometimes this can mean having to make unpopular or difficult decisions. This means great team leaders also need to be courageous.
Good decision-making should also be transparent. It should be clear to the team how the decision was reached. This is especially important when it comes to recruitment and reward and recognition processes. Transparent decision-making helps build trust and promotes a culture of fairness.
The best leaders are also successful managers. They’re responsible for planning and organizing tasks and prioritizing work. Great team managers know the individual strengths and development areas of each of their team members. This allows them to delegate work most effectively, meeting the needs of both the individual and the organization.
Team leaders also need to efficiently and appropriately manage resources. As well as personnel, these resources may include money and time. Cost and duration are often in conflict when it comes to task delivery. A great team leader manages to strike the most effective balance between them.
Great team leaders also maintain an overall view of progress. They need to be constantly anticipating what’s needed to optimize team performance. Then they need to reprioritize resources and reorganize work in order to deliver the required outcome.
Great team leaders are constantly problem-solving. They might be considering how to optimize a process that isn’t working. Or how to deliver a task when a team member is off sick. Or how best to support a team member who’s struggling to master a required skill.
There are many different problem-solving techniques out there. The best team leaders have a few in their toolbox that they can turn to when faced with a tricky challenge. But great team leaders are also unafraid to say when they’re stumped by a problem. They know the value of bringing in other experts to help find a solution.
The best team leaders are also happy to involve their team in solving problems. They’re happy to step up and provide a solution if required. But they’re not afraid to acknowledge other solutions that are better. Great team leaders want the most effective solution for the business. They’re not precious about where it came from, even if it was suggested by a more junior team member.