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How do you Lead a Team

Understanding how to lead a team is as much an art as it is a science, gauging the needs of your people and how you’re best going to inspire them and push them to achieve their very best.

The Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu once wrote, “anyone who wants to lead the people must follow them as if behind.” This quote has taken several forms over the years, but its meaning remains the same. It carries an important truth about leading people, whether that’s a small team or an army.

Do you need training to lead a team?

Leadership can come naturally to some, but that doesn’t mean a leader can’t be shaken up and taught new tricks. It also means that many people need to learn the right skills before taking on a leadership role for the first time.

Teams are as varied as the people that make them up, and we all know that no two people are the same. Some teams will test your ability to resolve conflicts while others will need a flair for motivation and work incentives.

Working with other people on equal footing tests our ability to compromise and see things from other perspectives. Leading people whilst working alongside them tests you even further. You don’t need to just compromise; you need to be the person that lubricates that compromise and makes sure everybody gets fair treatment.

Improving leadership skills will not only give you ideas in how to lead a team, but will also get you ready for challenges and—let’s not forget—challenge you in turn.

Becoming a better leader (or learning to be a leader in the first place) means serious reflection. It means holding a mirror up to your own thoughts and actions, seeing yourself as others do, and being honest about the attitudes holding you back. Not everybody can do this naturally. Some people downright struggle to see their mistakes without some outside help.

How to lead a team

Well, according to our earlier piece of wisdom, you follow them. So, does that mean you don’t lead at all, and just let them sort it out themselves?

Definitely not! Leading a team isn’t just about delegating tasks and bossing people about. It’s about using your head and heart in equal measures, supporting them in the right ways, boosting their strengths and being realistic about their weaknesses—because we all have plenty of both!

Leading a team means:

  • Having a culture of trust and transparency, letting you have the frank conversations that need to happen so that you can all be your best.
  • Having a sense of curiosity and being able to access real human connections, seeing people and not just work units.
  • Giving your team the tools to make their own change happen and giving them room to be autonomous, making their own choices for their futures.
  • Being present and reliable as a leader without dictating everything that happens.

And, most importantly, being opposed to inflating your own ego and letting yourself be flattered. Leaders need to accept a ‘warts and all’ way of thinking. If they don’t then they can’t ever improve, because they already know it all!

Leading a team with these values and similar ones in mind is at the heart of a happy team, one that’s equipped to face challenges and improve with each victory. It also forms the core of everything a team’s leader should do, which is to lead by example.

Leaders will find a sweet spot between challenging their people whilst giving them a high degree of support so that they can thrive and prove themselves.

How should I not lead a team?

There are many ways to not lead a team. You’ll soon know you’re doing a poor job when people start voting with their feet.

Leading with an insurmountable ego is practically a guarantee that your team will struggle, either in their work or their attempts to connect with you and others. Egoism stops you as a leader from listening to others’ advice, learning from your mistakes, and accepting that there are things you don’t know and don’t do perfectly.

Leaders with a big ego are incapable of reflecting and they won’t ever tear up their own personal rulebook, even when it would benefit the team to shatter their current behaviours and build up something new and better.

Finally, people won’t stick around long if they don’t understand the overall goals. If you can’t get everybody on board with a shared vision, things will fall apart quickly.

Learning how to lead a team

We do all of the above and more, holding up the mirror so that—with just a little help—leaders can arrive to their own unique lessons, learning new behaviours and ways of thinking that serve for years to come.

Find out about Team Academy’s leadership training program and why so many leaders have such amazing things to say about our results. Contact Team Academy today and let’s start the conversation.

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