7 Qualities That Make A Remarkable Team Leader
Several organizational managements make the mistake of approaching team leadership as a one-time act, whereas every major study agrees that team-leadership is a long-drawn process. There are four essential aspects of team-leadership:
- Internal processes
- Organizational communications
- Productivity enhancement
- Feedback sharing
Most team leaders that force their associates to work harder, invariably end up failing. On the flip side, leaders that entrust a sense of ownership into every team member have been known to extract so much more from the team. Here’s a delve-down of seven qualities of a team leader who routinely tastes success with his/her team.
Good leaders communicate effectively. And that is just half the good. A proper leader also knows how important it is to track those changes. John Doerr, in his 2017 book Measure What Matters, described the OKR (Objectives & Key Results) methodology. The book became a bestseller overnight and influenced no less than the co-founders of Google.
So, what is the OKR methodology? It’s a set of the following five processes:
- Set strategic priorities
- Assess processes
- Set OKRs
- Share results and roles
- Organize the reporting structure
It must be noted that the OKR methodology is interconnected and for one facet to work, all the others must be in place as well.
For example, you cannot assess processes without setting strategic priorities. And you cannot share roles and results constructively unless you organize the reporting structure.
No one likes micromanaging. Not even the people that are doing it. That’s right, especially because the people who do micromanage, fail to notice it all the time. Here are some quick checks to make sure you are not one of the lot:
Assign well: If you are inclined to assign bits and pieces of a work instead of the full job, it could be a sign you are micromanaging. Instead, assign one full task at a time, unless, of course, you are assigning something to an intern on their first day of work.
Do not obsess over control: Several managers send tens of emails to their employees every day to check on their progress. However, you should know that the urge to check on the status of a task once you have assigned it is rather normal. It’s way better to use a task-management tool, instead.
Avoid over-instructing: It’d be way easier for you to do the thing yourself than writing down every single step on how to do something. Again, trust your employees to execute their skills and do the job for you.
Over-reporting feels terrible: No employee likes to put more effort in reporting than doing the real work (unless reporting is the real work for them). While you have every right to see actionable insights, you do not want to kill their enthusiasm with demands for tedious reports.
Encourage independent decisions: Most micromanagers get irritated when their employees make independent decisions – even when they are perfectly capable of making the decision within their level of expertise. Many employees see this as a serious impediment to giving their all at work.
You must invest time in your employees. Good collaboration requires internal communication. Unless you really invest your time into building this chain of communication, you do not see the zeal to work toward a common goal in all team members.
It is easy for members of your team to understand their job descriptions. But it’s really important for you to paint to them how that matters for the company as a whole. Always encourage them to share their work ideas with their co-managers and managers.
Once you raise the engagement in the employee, they want to do their work better. How do you up the engagement quotient for your team members? Pay attention to these three things:
- Relationship with the senior management
- Faith in the senior leadership
- Pride in working for the company
The first thing you want to do is talk to people directly. Know what troubles your best employees. Segregate some time every week to speak to the team. Make sure this is solely about feedback and not performance.
4. Be Humble
Many leaders get into an overdrive when their team members do not measure up to the expected standards. What we need to understand is failure is natural, particularly if someone is trying something for the first time.
However, there is absolutely no reason to encourage failure that is a direct product of laziness or maybe even incompetence. If someone has to fail, they must do it hard and fast but not often. Unless the team is doing something out of the ordinary rather regularly, you would want to make sure the frequency of failures keeps dropping.
Regardless of how and how often, good team leaders should have it in them to take responsibility. You must take responsibility for both your mistakes and those of your team members. In fact, it would be a terrible mistake to ignore what you do around yourself.
If your team never contests any of your ideas ever, you may as well be leading a herd of sheep. There is always the feedback loop that goes into the making of a good overall plan.
If you are curious whether or not your employees are indeed the dreaded herd, try this cheeky way out. Drop down a ridiculous idea in your usual tone. This is important because you must make sure that there is nothing in your tone that gives off the impression that you are goofing around.
Testing and hypothesizing are necessary because if your employees do not contest you, even bad ideas will make it to the development phase.
Every new team leader wants to inculcate a sense of culture in the team. This culture includes the values and principles that you want to see in your employees. A coherent company culture makes it way easier to get the right people on board.
According to Dharmesh Shah, CTO and co-founder of Hubspot, the culture of a startup is defined by the following three things:
- The behavior of the founders
- Which professionals are recruited, rewarded, and recognized
- Which professionals get fired
When teams are built from zero, it is easier to build together a culture. That is because everyone is new and can be vetted during the hiring process. However, there are plenty of occasions where the manager needs to impose values on a team working for a while. This calls for greater communication skills, trust and accountability.
Team-building is just the first small milestone. The team leaders must constantly enforce the values of the team and make sure the employees receive timely reminders of the same. Team leaders should follow the three to preserve the culture they have built:
- Lead by example
- Constantly tell team members about the company’s vision
- Take feedback and change seriously
7.Take Tough Decisions
Procrastination is at the root of low productivity. Honestly, all of us go through a phase when we cannot seem to get any work done. It’s a given that we cannot be at the peak of our productivity all the time. The uncool part is the modern day glorification of these down days.
These four things are common fuel to the procrastination fire:
Not many realize , but office politics put a lot of stress on even passive discussants. Minimize the office politics effect with an open environment that promotes trust.
Unnecessary socialization with colleagues
Socialization is not just recommended, but is also of utmost importance. But it should only be done in moderate quantities. Unplanned and long conversations can quickly spiral out of control and start a downward spiral quicker than anyone can realize. At least 4 out of 10 employees feel that they can get way more done if co-workers did not converse with them.
Most of us have the uncanny habit to keep checking on our emails time and again. Some researchers point out that employees can check their emails up to 30 or 40 times an hour. You do not have to answer every email in 20 seconds.
The new-age employee does not feel particularly productive unless he has several tabs open in multiple devices. Smaller goals can only give the illusion of progress. But the truth is that multitasking reduces 10 IQ points and curtails productivity by no less than 40%.
Procrastination blunders lurk under every desk. Defeat them everyday and keep finding new excuses for culling the monster. Remember, it is only through deadlines that we can create a procrastination-free work environment.
FOUNDER, PRODUCT ARCHITECT & CHAIRMAN