Tag: Team Leader

Special Skills for Success in Leading Teams

Special Skills for Success in Leading Teams

Becoming a team leader can happen in many ways. You may be hired from outside the company to take on a team. You might be assigned to create a brand new team. Or, you might be promoted from within the team. Each situation requires some special skills for success.

What to Do If You’ve Been Promoted from within the Team

Being promoted from within the team is often a huge challenge for new supervisors. It is difficult to make the transition from team member to team leader, particularly if you are now responsible for sensitive items, such as salaries or schedules.

To begin, start setting a good example from the moment that you think you may be promoted to team leader. We all have bad habits; take this time to curb yours. Identifying the source of your bad habits and creating an action plan may also help you identify areas for improvement within the team.

Training can also be beneficial. Enlist your supervisor’s help in determining appropriate topics. Some suggestions:

Take this time, too, to do some careful observing. What is the current supervisor doing? Which behaviors work for the team, and which don’t? You will also want to get a clear job description and go over it with the current supervisor to make sure there are no surprises. You will also want to review the job descriptions for each team member.

When you take over the role of team leader, have a meeting with your team. Explain that you have taken over the role and its responsibilities. Clarify that things will continue as usual. It is important to spend your first few weeks settling into the role and understanding the big picture before you make any major changes.

One of the biggest challenges team leaders who have been promoted from within the team face is a lack of respect. For example, let’s say you always had the habit of taking an hour lunch instead of 45 minutes, and most of the team had lunch with you. When you are promoted, you realize the behavior has to stop, but when you request that the team return from lunch on time, they remind you of your previous habits and tease you.

In these situations, simply provide a logical explanation for changing your behavior: “I know I often returned late from lunch before, but that was before I realized how much it was costing the company. The company has this rule for a reason, and I think it’s important that we all respect it.”

Above all, do not respond emotionally to taunts, teases, and jibes. A logical explanation, or a simple, “I don’t think those kinds of comments are appropriate,” should make your position clear in a professional manner.

What To Do If You’re Leading a Brand New Team

Many team leaders feel that heading up a new team is one of the easiest tasks. After all, the team members don’t know each other, so they have nothing to argue about. However, other team leaders feel that this is one of the most difficult, rewarding challenges a leader can face.

To begin, make sure that the team has a clear role and objective. This is particularly important for short term, task-based teams. Then, share this role with the team, and help them to focus on their new task. Often, employees who have been transferred to the team from within the company have a hard time letting go of their old positions.

What to Do if You’re Taking on an Established Team

Coming on board as the new team leader for an established team can be a tough task. Your primary objective in this situation is not to appear as a threat, but rather as a helpful new resource and valuable ally.

To begin, gather information about the team’s objective, team dynamics, and their history together. If possible, be introduced to the team before you start work as their supervisor, and spend some time watching them work.

It is also important to get started on the right foot. On your first day, have a team meeting. Explain your role and what you will be doing in the coming weeks. (Ideally, you should spend your first few weeks watching the team. Avoid making major changes if possible. Be an observer rather than a participant.) If you have been hired to make changes, set expectations for what will happen in the short term and long term.

 

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The Different Types of Teams

The Different Types of Teams

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a team as a number of persons associated together in work or activity. Teams are formed for many purposes.  Examples include project teams, ad-hoc teams, quality improvement teams, and task forces.  Sometimes the team is formed to work on a goal as an adjunct to a traditional hierarchy in an organization.  At other times, the team is designed to replace the hierarchy.

Several roles help to keep a team operating smoothly.

Team Leader:

Team Facilitator:

  • Makes things happen with ease
  • Helps the group with the process
  • Enables the group to produce the “how” decisions

Team Recorder:

  • Writes down the team’s key points, ideas and decisions
  • Documents the team’s process, discussions, and decisions

Time Keeper:

  • Monitors how long the team is taking to accomplish its tasks
  • Provides regular updates to the team on how well or poorly they are using their time
  • Collaborates with the team leader, facilitator and others to determine new time schedules if the agenda has to be adjusted

Team Members:

  • Displays enthusiasm and commitment to the team’s purpose
  • Behaves honestly; maintain confidential information behind closed doors
  • Shares responsibility to rotate through other team roles
  • Shares knowledge and expertise and not withhold information
  • Asks questions
  • Respects the opinions and positions of others on the team, even if the person has an opposing view or a different opinion

The Traditional Team

There are several characteristics common to traditional teams.

  • A team gains a shared understanding and purpose among team members, as distinguished from a group.
  • Teams require mutually agreed-upon operating principles such as agendas, procedures, and decision-making processes.
  • A team is interdependent; everyone works for the good of the team, not for oneself.
  • Effective teams distinguish task from process. How they do things (the process) is just as important, if not more important, than what they do (the task).

Self-Directed Teams

A self-directed team is a team that is responsible for a whole product or process.  The team plans the work and performs it, managing many of the tasks supervision or management might have done in the past.  A facilitator (selected by the team or an outside individual) helps the group get started and stay on track.  The facilitator’s role decreases as the team increases its ability to work together effectively.

E-Teams

An e-team is a group of individuals who work across space and organizational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of communication technology. Members have complementary skills and are committed to a common purpose, have interdependent performance goals, and share an approach to work for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.

Geographically dispersed teams allow organizations to hire and retain the best people regardless of location.  An e-team does not always imply telecommuters, individuals who work from home. Many virtual teams in today’s organizations consist of employees, both working at home and in small groups in the office, but in different geographic locations.

The benefits of an e-team approach are:

  • Workers can be located anywhere in the world
  • Virtual environments can give shy participants a new voice
  • Members have less commuting and travel time, so they tend to be more productive
  • Companies gain an increasingly horizontal organizational structure, characterized by structurally, and geographically distributed human resources.

There are a few caveats when using e-teams.  They frequently operate from multiple time zones, so it is important to make sure that there is some overlapping work time.  In addition, unless a camera is used for meetings, working virtually means that there is no face to face body language to enhance communications.  Therefore, intra-team communications must be more formal than with a team whose members meet physically.  Care also needs to be taken to make sure no one is left out of the communications loop just because he or she is not visible.  E-teams demand a high trust culture.

 

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How to Leave a Positive Impression on Your Team

How to Leave a Positive Impression on Your Team

If you want to make the most of interpersonal relationships as a team leader, you have to be able to leave a lingering positive impression on your team members. People’s first impressions of you are what dictate if they want to get to know you any further. You want to make sure, then, that you create an impact on your team.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Creating a Powerful First Impression

In today’s fast-paced world, you have to maximize the time and opportunities you get with the people that you meet.

The following are some tips in creating a powerful first impression:

Dress to impress.
Beauty is within, but this doesn’t mean that people don’t make conclusions about you based on your appearance. If you want to create a great first impression make sure that you look your best. Whenever you’re presenting yourself to other people, be clean, well-groomed and dressed in clothes that fit and within the prescribed dress code

Be positive.
Nobody likes to talk to cranky, irritable, and pessimistic people! Instead, people are drawn to those who smile a lot and radiate a pleasant disposition. If you want to be remembered, make them feel welcomed and appreciated. A positive experience is as easy to remember as a negative one!

Communicate your confidence.
Powerful first impressions are those that show you are self-assured, competent, and purposive. Always establish eye contact with the people you are talking to. Shake hands firmly. Speak in a deliberate and purposive way.

Be yourself!
Meeting people for the first time can be extremely anxiety-provoking, but do your best to act naturally. People are more responsive to those who don’t come across as if they’re putting on a front or are very controlled. Let your personality engage the other person.

Go for the extra mile.
Do more than the usual that can make you stand out from the rest.

Assessing a Situation

All interpersonal skills involve sensitivity to what is going on around, especially what is happening with the people you are interacting with. After all, context variables, such as timing and location, can change the meaning of a communication. You want to make sure that you are not just saying the right thing, but you are saying the right thing at the right moment.

If you want to make an impact, you have to factor in the situation.

The following are some tips in assessing the situation:

Listen, not just to what is being said, but also to what is NOT being said. 
An excellent interpersonal skill to master is a keen observing eye. You have to be able to note the body language of the people around you in order for you to be able to respond appropriately. For example, there is body language that says go on, we like what you’re saying.” There is also body language that says “I don’t want to hear that right now.”

Identify needs.
A second way to assess the situation is to ask yourself: what does this social occasion need right now? A newly formed team, for example, likely has members who still don’t know one another. The need then is for someone to help break the ice. A group that is tired from a long working day, probably needs an opportunity to relax and unwind. Knowing these needs can help you respond to them more appropriately.

Practice etiquette.
Etiquette may seem like a useless bunch of rules to some people, but they serve a purpose: they tell you what are generally considered as acceptable and unacceptable for certain situations. It helps then that you know basic etiquette rules so that you don’t make a faux pas that can ruin the great first impression that you made.

Being Zealous without Being Offensive

Enthusiasm, diligence, and persistence are all great virtues to have, especially if you’re in the business of creating social networks. However, you have to be careful that your persevering doesn’t cross the line to pestering — or worse harassing the person.

The following are some tips on being zealous without being offensive:

Focus on what is important to the other person.
Being “other-centered” is the best way to monitor your own eagerness to make contact with other people. Before you do something, make that habit of asking yourself: does this action address the need of the other person, or is it merely addressing my need?

Respect boundaries.
Everyone has personal boundaries, and it would do us well to respect them. Not seeing clients without an appointment is an example of a boundary. The same goes for not accepting calls during the weekend or past regular office hours. Work within these boundaries, and you’ll be able to communicate your courtesy. And if you don’t know what a person’s boundaries are, you have nothing to lose in asking!

Make requests, not demands.
We can always do our best to persuade and influence other people, but we can’t force them to do what they don’t want to do. So always courteously ask for permission, and verify agreement. And if they say no —- then accept the no as an answer, unless you have something new to offer.

Note non-verbal behavior.
Similar to the tip in the previous section, always be guided by the other person’s non-verbal response to you. If you find that they are already showing irritation, then perhaps it’s time to back off. But if they appear open to you, they look at you with interest while you speak , then it’s advisable to go on.

 

 

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Paraverbal Communication Skills for Team Leaders

Paraverbal Communication Skills for Team Leaders

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” – Peter Drucker

How you say something to your team is just as important as what you are saying. How you say something is known as paraverbal communication and include the pitch, tone, and speed of your words when you communicate.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

The Power of Pitch

Pitch can be most simply defined as the key of your voice. A high pitch is often interpreted as anxious or upset. A low pitch sounds more serious and authoritative. Your team will pick up on the pitch of your voice and react to it. Variation in the pitch of your voice is also important to keep your team members interested. If you naturally speak in a very high-pitched or low-pitched voice, work on varying your pitch to encompass all ranges of your vocal cords.

The Truth about Tone

Did your mother ever say to you, “I don’t like that tone!” She was referring to the combination of various pitches to create a mood.

Here are some tips on creating a positive, authoritative tone when communicating with your team.

  • Try lowering the pitch of your voice a bit.
  • Smile! This will warm up anyone’s voice.
  • Sit up straight and listen.
  • Monitor your inner monologue. Negative thinking will seep into the tone of your voice.

Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Activities

The Strength of Speed

The pace at which you speak also has a tremendous effect on your communication ability. From a practical perspective, a team leader who speaks quickly is harder to understand than one who speaks at a moderate pace. Conversely, a team leader who speaks very slowly will probably lose their audience’s interest before they get very far!

Speed also has an effect on the tone and emotional quality of your message. A hurried pace can make your team feel anxious and rushed. A slow pace can make your team feel as though your message is not important. A moderate pace will seem natural, and will help the team focus on your message.

One easy way to check your pitch, tone, and speed is to record yourself speaking. Think of how you would feel listening to your own voice. Work on speaking the way you would like to be spoken to.

 

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The Importance of Self-Discipline for Team Leaders

The Importance of Self-Discipline for Team Leaders

If you know you have leadership ability but have experienced little in terms of concrete results, you may lack self-discipline. No team leader can achieve and sustain success without self-discipline. Your gifts will never reach their maximum potential without the application of self-discipline. It positions the leader at their highest level and is a crucial key to leadership that last.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Develop and Follow Your Priorities

As a team leader, you will never be successful by doing what you must only when you are in the mood or when it is convenient. If this is your attitude, your team will not follow you nor respect you. Determine your top priorities and release yourself from everything else. This makes it easier to follow through on your goals and is the essence of self-discipline.

Make a Disciplined Lifestyle Your Goal

To be successful as a team leader, you need to realize that self-discipline cannot be a one-time event. It has to become your lifestyle. One of the best ways to develop a lifestyle of self-discipline is to develop systems and routines. These should especially focus on the areas crucial to your long-term growth and success.

Challenge Your Excuses

To develop self-discipline, one of your first tasks is to challenge and eliminate any tendency to make excuses. Confront yourself with the fact that your reasons for not being self-disciplined are nothing but a bunch of excuses. If you want to go to next level in your leadership, you are going to have to challenge every excuse.

Stay Focused on Results

If you concentrate too much on how difficult the task is instead of the rewards or results, you can become discouraged. Focusing on how difficult something is will develop self-pity instead of self-discipline.

How Team Leaders Can Improve Their Self-Discipline

Establish Your Priorities. Write down the two or three areas of your life that are most important to you. Alongside them write down the disciplines you need to develop to keep growing and improving in those areas. Develop a plan to make those disciplines a daily or weekly part of your life.

List the Benefits of Self-Discipline. Write down the benefits of practicing the disciplines you listed. Post them where you can see them every day. Reread the list of benefits every time you are tempted to quit.

Eliminate the Excuses. Write down any reasons why you might not be able to follow through. Dismiss them for the excuses that they are. Even if the reasons seem legitimate, challenge yourself to find solutions to overcome it.

 

Resource: The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader

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The Importance of Courage for Team Leaders

Courage-in-leadership

When a team leader is willing to make courageous decisions, significant progress is made by the team. Leadership positions cannot give a person courage, but courage can give a person a leadership position. One of the things that all effective leaders have in common is the willingness to take risks.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Courage Comes From Within the Team Leader

Every test you face as a leader begins within you. Courage is not the absence of fear but doing that which you are afraid of doing. It is the ability to let go of the familiar and step into the unknown.

Courageous Team Leaders are Peace Makers not Just Peace Keepers

It takes more courage to make things right than it does just to smooth things over. A team leader’s worth is measured in times of challenge and controversy. Effective team leaders not only possess people skills in getting the team to work together, but they can also take a stand when necessary. They have the ability to know when to stand up for something and the conviction to do it.

Courageous Team Leaders Inspire Commitment from Their Team

Courage is contagious; a show of courage by one team member encourages the rest of the team. A show of courage by the team leader inspires the team and makes them want to follow the team leader. When leadership expresses courage, it compels the team to do the right thing.

Your Leadership Expands in Proportion to Your Courage

While fear limits leaders, courage opens doors and provides better futures. Whether you take risks or not, you are going to experience some amount of fear. Since you are going to have to overcome your fear and doubts, you might as well make it count.

How You Can Improve Your Courage

  1. Stretch yourself. Do something that stretches you, simply for the sake of growing in courage. What you choose to do is not important, as long as it causes you to face a genuine fear.
  1. Stop avoiding confrontation. Is there someone with whom you know you are avoiding confrontation? Talk with that person this week in a kind and gentle manner.
  1. Take that big step. Is there something big you know you should do, but you have not had the courage to do? Face up to it this week, talk to your spouse or trusted friend about If you feel it’s the right thing to do, then do it.

Resource: The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader

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The Importance of Commitment for Team Leaders

The Importance of Commitment for Team Leaders

You cannot be an effective team leader without commitment. There has never been a great leader that was not committed. Commitment is a leadership quality that inspires and attracts people. It shows that the leader has convictions and that the leader believes in the cause. A team will buy into the team leader before they buy into the vision.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

The True Nature of Commitment

  1. Commitment is a heart issue. Team leaders cannot wait for everything to be perfect before they are willing to commit themselves. Commitment is needed before success can be experienced. It is often a person’s heart that makes the difference between a good and a great leader. If you really want to make a difference in the life of others you need to look into your heart to see if you are really committed.
  2. Commitment is tested by action. The real test of a team leader’s commitment is action and not mere talk. Words are easy to say but it is much harder to live them out each day. How are you at following through on your commitments?
  3. Commitment opens the door to achievement. Leaders will often face obstacles and opposition. There will be times where their commitment is the only thing that carries them through. Commitment allows team leaders to press on and get up no matter how many times they get knocked down. Nothing worthwhile can be achieved without commitment.

Related: Resilience Outcome Based Team Building Activities

How to Improve Your Commitment

  1. Measure your commitment. There are times when team leaders think they are committed but their actions show otherwise. Take time to look at where you spend your time and how you spend your money. This will give you a clear indication of your true level of commitment.
  2. Know what is worth dying for. What are you willing to die for? What would you not be able to stop doing no matter the consequences? See if your actions match your ideals.
  3. Make your plans public. If you find it difficult to make that first step towards commitment, make your plans public. Making your plans public will help you to be more committed to following them through.

Resource: The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader

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The Importance of Charisma for Team Leaders

 

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Charisma is a characteristic that draws people to you. Although it is often believed that you are either born with charisma or not, it is in fact a characteristic that can be developed. As a team leader, how charismatic would you rate yourself? Are people naturally attracted to you? Most common roadblocks to charisma are pride, insecurity, moodiness, perfectionism, and cynicism.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Traits of Charismatic Team Leaders

  1. Charismatic team leaders love life. People typically enjoy and more readily follow leaders who enjoy life. Leaders with charisma are passionate about life; they are celebrators and not complainers. If you want to be someone that attracts people, become like those people that you enjoy being around.
  2. Charismatic team leaders expect the best of their team. The charismatic team leader has made it a habit of always expecting the best of their team. If you are always expecting the best of people and help them to think more highly of themselves, you will naturally attract people. Charismatic leaders appreciate others and encourage others.
  3. Charismatic team leaders give their team hope. Charismatic team leaders are always looking to instill hope because they know hope is the greatest of all possessions. People will be attracted to you if you are a leader that bestows hope on others.
  4. Charismatic team leaders share of themselves. People are naturally attracted to leaders that share of themselves and their life journeys. Charismatic leaders are willing to share their resources, wisdom and special Leaders with charisma think about others more than they think of themselves.

How to Become a More Charismatic Team Leader

  1. Work at focusing more on others. Observe how you interact with others, how much of your talking is concentrated on yourself. If you find that most of the conversation is about you, then it is time to change the balance and focus more on others.
  2. Make sure you are creating positive first impressions. When next you meet someone for the first time, make a determined effort to make a good first impression. Make sure you memorize the person’s name, focus on the person’s interest and that you are positive.
  3. Practice sharing of yourself and your resources. Make it one of your long term goals to share your resources with others. Think how you can add value to the lives of those people you interact with on a daily basis. Provide them with resources to help them grow both personally and professionally.

 

Resource: The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader

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Training a New Team Leader

Training a New Team Leader

Training a new team leader has its challenges. A team leader that has been promoted from within the team will have to learn to transition from their previous position to this new one. A new team leader brought in from outside the team will have to be taught everything from scratch. It requires a little patience and open communication to train a new team leader for success in their position.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Activities

Set Specific Goals for the Team Leader

It is essential to establish clear goals when you start training a new team leader. Involve the new team leader and ask what they would like to accomplish. The goals should be realistic and be achievable by the team in a reasonable amount of time.  Be specific, the more detailed the plan, the more the team leader will know what is expected of them.

Related: Goal Setting Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Authority of the Team Leader

It is necessary that a new team leader asserts their authority to the team. For this to happen successfully, the team leader needs to know what authority they have. You can help the team leader by drawing up a list of what the leader has authority over and what areas they control. Remind the team leader that they can come to you if there is a problem.

Create a Shared Vision

Determine what you expect from the team by creating a shared vision with the new team leader. This will benefit both you and the team leader as both parties can share what they are hoping to achieve. Work with the team leader from the beginning so that they know they have the proper support form management. It is important that you are open with them and that they know what you want form them. Allow the new leader to speak openly with you about what they want and how they plan to get there. Work with the team leader to establish a vision that has realistic goals that you can both help the other to achieve. Schedule follow-up meetings to let them know how they are doing.

Guidelines for creating a shared vision with a new team leader:

  • Be specific with the vision and the feedback.
  • Focus on goals and progress that the team leader can reasonably achieve.
  • Form a plan that can help illustrate how your shared vision can be reached.
  • Arrange regular follow-up meetings.

Increase Responsibility

Becoming a new team leader is a learning process. To start out, give the team leader a fair load of responsibilities and duties. Monitor the progress of the leader and see how they handle themselves. Gradually increase their responsibilities as they grow and learn. Moderation is the key, don’t overload the new team leader too quickly otherwise they might lose interest and fail to succeed in their position.

Image Source: Miss Moon

 

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Leadership: Modeling the Way for Your Team

Leadership: Modeling the Way for Your Team

The best team leaders are those that are examples of what they want their team to be. An effective leader does not lead from the back. A team leader that sends the team out to face the challenges while remaining in an ivory tower will never gain the respect of the team. By definition, a leader is someone who takes the lead and is ready to take the heat if something goes wrong. A real leader does not blame the team members even if in fact they failed. The real leader takes the blame and addresses how to correct the problem.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Be an Inspirational Role Model

Leadership requires self-confidence and is neither for the timid nor the arrogant. People who lack self-confidence often feel intimidated by a real leader. Do not let a lack of self-confidence hold you back. If you have honesty, integrity and deal with everyone fairly, others will recognize it. A leader should be open to criticism but should consider the source as well. You should not be afraid of what other may say; neither should you ignore legitimate complaints. If you insist on respect solely based on your position, you will easily lose the respect and cooperation of your team.

Influencing the Perspectives of Your Team Members

It is often said that perception is reality. As a leader, it is important that you are always presenting an honest, caring, dedicated attitude to inspire others. If you aim to inspire loyalty in your team members, it is essential that you have a track record of honesty and fairness. Address the issue immediately if any of your team members feel they have been wronged, whatever the reason may be. A problem that is ignored is a problem that grows.

Often the most-powerful influence a leader can have is in not trying to influence someone. If your team feels that you are open to their suggestions and believe that they have been heard, they will work harder even if they disagree with the methods or goals. You will find that simply listening to others make them feel empowered even if they don’t accept your ideas. If the members of your team feel that there is no point in talking to you, then they simply won’t. This could lead to the team members becoming disengaged from your vision and only following your directions begrudgingly.

If your team members see that you are willing to go the extra mile, they are more likely to go the extra mile as well. A team leader that hides in the office will be perceived as uninterested and uninformed, and therefore unworthy to lead. Many successful leaders of large organizations make it a point to seen by their team members every day. When a team member is to be commended for something, it should be done in front of the rest of the team. This will send a powerful message to all the team members.

 

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