Leaders are only as good as the team around them which is why great leaders invest heavily in their teams’ growth, happiness and wellbeing.
Time and time again I work with a number of leaders who are struggling to establish respect from their team or are finding it tricky to define the balance between boss and colleague. This can usually happen when someone who was ‘one of the team’ has been promoted to a more senior level (usually without the guidance or training needed to accompany that).
When I really look into what’s happening here and why these people are struggling, it’s usually to do with a power struggle and undefined boundaries. Here are a few tips to ensure your team is a strong one and how, as a leader, you can inspire, empower as well as grow.
1. Be honest and learn together
This for me is imperative to success as a bit of honesty, humility and open communication goes a long way. For new ‘leaders’ I always advise to speak to your team, relay that this is a new role and opportunity for you and that you want to learn and grow together so that they feel invested and included. By going on this journey together, you can build the foundations of a loyal and trusting team with a culture of continuous learning.
2. Focus on the end goal and set realistic milestones
Having a clear focus as a leader is paramount as if your vision and end goals are clear, your team will understand and work with you on achieving them. If a leader isn’t focused or is unclear about the tasks at hand, how can they expect their team to be? Losing sight or being muffled can lead to disrespect and uncertainty which is something you definitely don’t want from you team.
3. Treat everyone equally
Make sure that, no matter how busy you are, value each member of your team and their needs equally. If you have a weekly one-to-one with them, make sure you honour it. If you have a favourite, don’t show it. Be careful to avoid bias when it comes to decision making or assigning tasks. Ensure that you give your team members the freedom to be able to speak openly without any chance of being stifled or judged. If your team aren’t comfortable and feel unheard, they will be unhappy, and their wellbeing will suffer.
4. Setting boundaries – this is your 9 to 5 not your 24/7
Set boundaries very early on regarding what is acceptable and what isn’t and lead by example. If you want people in at a certain time, make sure you are yourself, if you want things presented to a certain standard make sure that is clearly stated and lived by and be mindful about how much you give of ‘you’ – do you need to be propping the bar up with your team at closing time or could you go and buy the first round and leave them to it? By leading by example it’s important that you demonstrate the values of your company and show your team how this is done. This is how you create the culture for your business and for your team.
5. Awareness – sensing when something isn’t quite right
Managing a team is tough there’s no doubt about it and when the workload is immense, signs of unhappiness or issues can be missed. Try to take time to observe and see how your team are – how are they interacting with each other, is anyone not themselves, are there any signs that things aren’t as they should be? If in doubt, just ask – a friendly gesture or check-in with someone can be the opening needed for them to talk. Remember, it’s OK not to be OK and by being aware of how your team is doing is vital to health and success. Observing can be more powerful than talking so do take some time to look up and go with your gut – it’s normally right.
6. Celebrate together and celebrate well
Make sure you celebrate your successes as a team and share the praise equally. There’s nothing better than feeling part of something and if the team member who is visiting on work experience has been a help in some way, make sure they’re rewarded and included in the reward. It makes so much difference to camaraderie and the feeling of being valued.