Do you lead by example?
One of the best ways to fully understand how to become an effective leader is leading by example. You’re not entitled to talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk. If you expect your team to work diligently to meet a goal, you must do so yourself. If you expect your team to dress in certain attire each day, you must do so yourself. And, if you expect your team to constantly improve their productivity, share your secrets for continuous personal and professional improvement.
If you’re not sure how to do these things yourself, don’t expect your team to fully grasp the importance of productivity. An admirable trait of effective team leaders is that they’re constantly improving themselves so they can pass their newfound knowledge onto their team. You are an effective leader if you can identify this trait in your own business practice.
Action Step: If you are not leading by example, then change your actions immediately. How can you expect your team to follow your golden rules if you do not follow them yourself? Think about that.
Are you compassionate and patient, yet firm?
In order to understand how to be an effective leader, you must be compassionate to the human condition. Effective leaders are understanding and patient; yet do not allow themselves or their team to compromise on the very things that make a business successful. As a leader, you are never above your team. Instead, you are beside them, willing to dig in the trenches alongside them. At the same time, they clearly look to you as a team leader. You help them to focus on their own growth, because that benefits the success of your business.
Action Step: Reaffirm you are a team – and operate as a team. At the next team meeting, ask for their feedback. What’s working? What’s not working? Listen first, offer solutions second. Involve them in the solution process by asking for possible solutions to problems. If you ask for their opinion, you must be dedicated to helping resolve issues.
Are you an approachable leader?
One of the most valuable traits of an effective team leader is that they’re willing to teach. Some team leaders will scold employees and expect them to learn new concepts at the blink of an eye – and this is a perfect example of the actions of an ineffective team leader. An effective leader understands that each person has a different style and pace of learning. While one team member may be able to catch on instantly, another may require more guidance. Effective leaders never criticize learning styles or pace – they adjust their teaching style to accommodate the team member’s learning ability.
Can your team approach you with a question and receive a clear, neutral answer? Effective leaders will always be accessible to their team, especially in time of need. If your team is terrified to approach you for help, they will not be performing to their fullest potential.
Action Step: Practice being approachable. At times, team members will come to you for help when it is convenient for them, but not so convenient for you. Often times, you will need to shift gears quickly, but without appearing irritated or frustrated. Always try to improve your approach with team members, showing calmness, professionalism and immediate solutions.
Do your actions build team loyalty?
An effective leader doesn’t earn loyalty by instilling fear. An effective leader knows how to positively gain trust, loyalty and dedication of the entire team. Your team will only back you up when you back them up. This is where it has to be given, without expectation, before it will be returned. Just as you will remember when your team went to bat for you, they will remember when you did the same for them. Every time you stand behind them, this builds loyalty and a valuable team mentality.
Be sure to choose quality team members who show a solid history of reliability, consistent performance, and stability when building your team. Hire a teenager with a reputation for not showing up to his previous place of employment, and you can be assured you will see the same. Be particular about potential team members and do thorough research and reference checks before bringing them on board.
Other Tips to Build Team Loyalty…
- Pay above minimum wage
- Be flexible when there’s a disaster or emergency
- Give holiday bonuses or small gifts
- Hold team building events (e.g. sports, meals, or an afternoon trip to the coffeehouse)
- Remember birthdays and employment anniversaries
Action Step: Evaluate your team members. Are they the right team? Do they deliver what the business needs to grow? Are you providing incentive and support for the team’s effective performance? Identify changes or adjustments needed to make the business more effective and efficient: possibly adjust tasks per member, re-delegate to a different team member, release or add team members, adjust systems and processes, or create improved incentives that inspire your team. So how did you score? Being an effective leader takes time and lots of personal development. Honestly, some people will never be effective leaders because it doesn’t suit their personality. However, as an entrepreneur and business owner, it is vital that you become the best leader you can be so your business, and your team, can grow personally and professionally. Ultimately, how far you want to take your success depends on you. When you commit to evolving into the best person you can be, your success follows suit – and so does your team.
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