How to Become a More Effective Team Leader

Team leader at team meeting

by Richard Highsmith

Recent Gallup poll results, found that difficulty with a team leader is the number one reason people leave their jobs. Michelle McQuaid found in a survey of 1,000 employed U.S. citizens that 65% believed a better relationship with their immediate supervisor would make them “happier in their current jobs.” Interestingly only 35% of the survey stated a raise in pay would bring them the same level of happiness.

McQuaid’s survey found several characteristics of team leaders caused this unhappiness. This survey is specific and offers a guideline for how to become a more effective team leader.

1. Appreciation. “The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” – Dalai Lama. It is easy over time to begin to accept the extraordinary as ordinary. Good work by teammates becomes expected and not worthy of comment or kudos. The problem as stated by the Dalai Lama is failure to appreciate the good efforts of individuals can choke off the goodness. Effective team leaders show their appreciation every day. It’s a simple process… say something positive to your teammates.

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2. Contribution. “If your contribution has been vital there will always be somebody to pick up where you left off… “ – Walter Gropius. To ensure your teammates pick up where you left off, make your own contribution to the work product. A hands-on approach is vital. Successful team leaders do the work it takes to achieve team goals. “What can I do to help you?” should be heard often by the team if you want to be a truly effective team leader.

3. Integrity. “You can’t fool a body of intelligent American workers for very long. You must ring true.” – Thomas DuPont. People who don’t keep promises or who say one thing and do another quickly lose the respect of teammates. DuPont says you must “ring true.” This means rigorous honesty… never attempting to deceive the team. Effective team leaders tackle this difficult task and remain open, approachable, and straight forward with their team. The message may not always be welcomed or positive, but the messenger gains respect and trust.

4. Handling Stress. “It makes no sense to worry about things you have no control over because there’s nothing you can do about them, and why worry about things you do control? The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized.” – Wayne Dyer. I saw a sign in a British police station that read; “Keep Calm and Press On.” This is a short version of the Dyer quote. You can’t control what you can’t control so keep calm. Worrying is immobilizing so press on. Team leaders set the tone for the team. Everyone may know the importance of achieving a goal and when the pressure is turned up, some will begin to show the stress. Effective team leaders maintain focus by not verbalizing doubt and fear. And by continuing to work toward the goal show the way for the rest of the team.

If you want to inspire your teammates and gain their appreciation, focus your efforts on building these four skills. Team Leaders who exhibit these traits will be rewarded with lower turnover and higher productivity. They will be happier at their job as will their teammates who depend on their leadership.

About the author

Richard Highsmith, [email protected], is President of Quality Team Building. He has twenty-five years experience training and coaching. He has built and sold two successful businesses. To learn more about becoming a team leader visit our website at http://www.qualityteambuilding.com