How to be a leader who builds effective teams

A strong leader is one who knows how to build teams who are independent of them

Many people think of management with a top down approach. They see a typical hierarchy chart, with them at the top and their team under them. True, confident leaders know that their role is to support their team. Turn the hierarchy triangle upside down. The manager is at the bottom, supporting their team, ensuring they have all the resources they need to do their job. 

Insecure leaders create environments where everyone "needs them"

Empower your team to make decisions without you. This will not only lead to increased efficiency, but also your team will feel more ownership and satisfaction in their role. If you are having a hard time trusting your team, ask yourself why. 

Has a particular team member made a mistake in their role, which has led to your decrease in trust? If so, do not clamp back down on them and ask to approve or review all their work. Instead, work closely with them to understand where the mistake happened and what actions to take to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. For example, your team member may need additional training (especially if they are new in the role). If you do feel reviewing their work is necessary, you must only do so with a deadline on the review period. The team member should know the reviewing is only temporary and is coming from a place of assistance- not from a lack of trust. Not being trusted to do your job is extremely demotivating. 

What type of manager do you want to be? Do you want to be the kind that everyone needs to do their job, or do you want to be the leader that inspires their team to reach for higher goals?

Insecure managers create a system where their approval is needed every step of the way. They feel that if they were not doing this, then they would make themselves redundant. This is a problem for organizations as it creates a bottleneck and slows down production. Quite often in this environment, project deadlines are impossible to meet (or are constantly shifted to accommodate the slow approval process). 

A good manager should empower their team to make decisions. I often tell my team- come to me when you have exhausted all options and solutions, and I will gladly help you. Emphasis on gladly help. You want to create a team that troubleshoots and finds solutions without you. I know if they are coming to me, its because they really need me- not they are defaulting coming to me. If team members are running to you with every hiccup, when will you have the time do the duties of your role? What happens when you go on vacation or are sick? How is your team growing if they are dependent on you? Your role as a leader is to grow team members skillsets. The best way to do this is to empower them to make decisions and solve problems themselves.

The greatest people are self-managing - they don't need to be managed. Once they know what to do, they'll go figure out how to do it. What they need is a common vision. And that's what leadership is: having a vision; being able to articulate that so the people around you can understand it; and getting a consensus on a common vision.

Steve Jobs

Let go of your need to control. Trust your team. Watch the environment improve and team production flourish.

Individualization: Know each team members strengths

Knowing your team is essential in not only allocating tasks, but learning how to best motivate and manage them. I highly recommend everyone on your team taking the Gallup Strengths Finder.

I promise you, you will have so many “ah-ha” moments when you learn your teams strengths from a survey like Gallup. You will understand why your team member does certain things, why the don’t like certain ways of communication, etc. Look at everyones results together as a team, see where there are complimentary or overlapping strengths. You will get a great picture of how well rounded your team is or potentially identify any weaknesses. A good team should include a diverse set of strengths. If your team all have the same strengths, you have probably hired people who are too similar to each other. This can create an environment where there is lack of creativity. 

In addition, you will learn more about yourself. Share your results with your team so they will understand you better. Managing people is a relationship, which not only requires trust, but requires time invested in making the relationship work. 

Adapt your communication style

Not everyone likes to be spoken to the same way. Some people need to know a lot of details and the “why” behind what they are being asked to do, others do not. Do not be the manager who is above explaining why. Those who ask “why” are often critical thinkers and an asset to your team. Thinking you are above explain the “why” is dismissive and egotistical. Embrace your teams differences, and adapt to them. As their leader, you should practice individualization and learn how to speak and motive each person on your team. The Gallup Strengths Finder will help you develop communication and management tactics.

Keep a lens on yourself as well.

How are you reacting when someone on your team makes a mistake? Do you show your frustration? Or are you solution oriented and future focused?

During a brainstorming session, do you speak first? Do you verbally or non-verbally shoot down “bad” ideas?

The most effective leaders practice self awareness and take responsibility in their role in the team-manager relationship. 



Leadership Coaching

Indygo Marketing can provide you or your managers the skills needed to build and manage effective, productive teams. Staying sharp on your skills as a manager is essential in being the leader your team deserves.
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Ann Smith
Ann Smith

Ann is the founder of Indygo Marketing. She has over 11 years of experience producing marketing strategies and campaigns.

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