How to Be the Team Leader You Wish You Had Starting Out
The research found that the best-performing organizations:
- Promote an inspiring dream that connects to a remarkable future, and the best of your past.
- Learn from others to forge a unique creative path
- Collaborate with competitors
- Pull people rather than pushing them
- Connect good data with good judgment
Each of these attributes can be applied to your leadership and management style. Because each organization is unique, it’s up to you to determine how these elements will fit.
Always make time
You don’t need to drop everything and be on call and available all hours of the day, but your team does need to know you’re available to them as a resource.
Time and availability are some of those all-important intersections between leadership and management.
Great management is the key to being available as a leader. If you’re allocating your time and bandwidth resources effectively, you’ll have the time and energy you need to share with your team.
Many of the world’s greatest chefs and restaurateurs are able to run more than one exceptional restaurant because they’re not just brilliant artists, they’re often brilliant managers and team leaders. They’re skillful delegators, talent sourcers, and system designers. They build a well-oiled machine that they can step away from without anxiety.
If you’re experiencing an increase in your daily responsibilities and a drop in the frequency of face-to-face contact with your team, consider holding regular office hours.
There’s no need to take this literally and make it a matter of hours — just keep a regularly scheduled time slot, and don’t violate it. You’ll be able to anticipate and plan around, and your teammates will know there’s always a time they can reach you with important questions or issues, or simply to catch up.
Consult your peers
Mentorship in your area of expertise is a valuable service you can provide for your team, but it’s equally valuable to seek out your own leadership mentors.
Remember: you’re not the first one to try to work this out.
It’s never a bad idea to ask other people in leadership positions how they’ve gained the respect and admiration of their peers. Take someone out for coffee or lunch, and soak up some leadership tips and insights you might not encounter otherwise.
It’s also crucial to remember that others on your team work with you, not under you. They’re a vital source of information on how you can develop and improve your leadership and management skills.
Ask your teammates how can you can be of more service to them, and how you can facilitate the work they’re doing more effectively. Because they’re working closest to the issue, there’s a good chance they’ll provide some unique and much-needed insight. Just stay open to the possibility that you can always do what you’re doing better, and try to keep from reacting defensively if you hear something unexpected.
If nothing else, you’ll be expressing your interest in improving their day-to-day experience in your organization, and that kind of open, positive dialogue is priceless in building trust and goodwill.
There’s a common expectation that once someone is placed in a leadership position, they’ll change. They’re no longer a trusted colleague; they’re a boss.
That doesn’t have to be you.
Providing a sturdy foundation is crucial in numerous aspects of leadership, and this is no different. Although personal growth and evolution are imperatives as a leader, it’s equally important to stay true to yourself and your team — after all, there’s a pretty good chance that’s what got you where you are in the first place.
Alan O’Rourke, VP of Growth at OnePageCRM put it well in a LinkedIn pulse article he published on this subject:
You may have been promoted to a managerial position and are a “boss” now, but this doesn’t automatically make you a leader.
Leadership demands a different perspective. It requires more from you than simply being a boss, but it’s infinitely more rewarding.
Now that you’re wearing those shoes, it’s time to live up to and even surpass the expectations of your team.
It’s time to be the team leader you wish you had starting out:
To keep learning about how leaders can contribute to strong company cultures, check out this resource: