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How To Lead a Team

By Erika Miller
Illustration of Carl the yeti holding a flag near a mountain.

Welcome to the world of team leadership! You’ve no doubt worked hard to get here, and put in lots of time and effort to get where you are today. You’re one smart cookie!

That doesn’t mean you don’t feel unprepared, though. Leading a team can be downright scary, and if you don’t have prior experience, things can get overwhelming fast.

So how can you become the next George Washington or Sun Tzu without going back to school? With modern performance management tips, of course!

Let’s get started.

How to lead a team – 8 easy steps

image with text - The 8 easy steps to lead a team.

Hone your leadership skills to become the best you can be by reading through these eight simple tips.

1. Developing your team leadership skills

When we think about leadership, we usually conjure up images of pie charts, typing sounds, and a slightly nicer office. This is all fine and well, but do you notice something missing? Yeah – actual leadership skills.

We rarely think about leadership skills while at work. Even once we become team leaders, we have a tendency to do what used to work in the past. Not only is this ineffective at best, but it prohibits us from growing in any meaningful way.

Instead of leaning back on old coping mechanisms, stretch your wings with:

  • A business mentorship program
  • Internal documents or resources
  • A chat with your immediate supervisor

It’s okay to not know what you’re doing at first. That’s why these resources exist!

2. Defining leadership roles

The better you understand your leadership role, the quicker you can settle into your new position.

Ask yourself:

  • What is my official job title?
  • What does the rest of my team expect from me?
  • What did the previous leader in my position do?

Keep in mind that time is another important element of this. Your role will become more defined the longer you’re in it — it just takes a while!

3. Talking to team members

Talking to employees can feel a little strange at first, particularly if you were promoted from among their ranks.

Practice makes perfect, though, and the best way to go about doing this is to:

  • Treat everyone like you want to be treated (Golden Rule for the win!)
  • Use terms like ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ to highlight ongoing teamwork
  • Be clear and concise, and over-communicate as often as possible

Above all, be human. Your employees will more than appreciate it — trust us.

4. Listening to employees

image with text - Listening to employees is by far one of the most foundational things you could do for building solid long-term relationships.

In the midst of all this talking and chatting, don’t forget to do the one thing employees need most: listen! Listening to employees is by far one of the most foundational things you could do for building solid long-term relationships.

Establish thorough lines of communication to keep employee satisfaction high. Be sure to set expectations up front about what employees can expect from you (and don’t forget to brush up on your active listening skills). If you don’t already have an open door policy, now is a great time to make one.

5. Identifying strengths and weaknesses

Let’s be honest: no one can be good at everything. That’s what makes us all unique, and what makes you unique as a leader as well. The sooner you know what your strengths and weaknesses are, the stronger you’ll be as a team leader.

Performing a SWOT analysis on yourself is one of the best ways to identify this. This means:

  • Highlighting your strengths
  • Discussing your weaknesses
  • Exploring your opportunities
  • Considering your threats

It’s important to be honest and objective as you complete this process. No cheating!

6. Studying effective leaders

Frankly, the best way to become a team leader is to watch how others are doing it. You may want to try:

  • Reading blogs or watching videos from leaders in a similar position.
  • Shadowing other supervisors or managers in your company.
  • Sitting down for a one-on-one conversation with a mentor.
image with text - Leading by example doesn’t mean duplicating everything a single leader does. Just take some of their groundwork and put your own spin on it.

A note: leading by example doesn’t mean duplicating everything a single leader does. Just take some of their groundwork and put your own spin on it. You’ll be glad you did!

7. Focused performance reviews

Ah, the dreaded performance review! So awkward — and yet so necessary.

As a team leader, you’ll be in charge of distributing regular reviews on a quarterly, yearly, or biannual basis. But it doesn’t mean they have to be boring!

Consider:

  • Setting goals that team members actually want to hit
  • Creating a line of continuous feedback that isn’t impersonal or siloed
  • Building succession plans and identifying top performers for the future

Software is a great place to get started with this, especially as a newer leader.

8. Recognizing your employees

Everybody loves a good pat on the back. As a manager, it’ll be your job to recognize, empower, and thank every member of your team. All the time!

This doesn’t mean just sending out Hallmark cards, though. This means:

  • Publicly thanking individuals for their work and accomplishments
  • Encouraging a culture of gratitude that everyone can see and experience
  • Offering actual rewards as a way to say thanks (not just company swag)

If you’re not already using recognition software, now’s a great time to get started.

Improving performance as a leader with Motivosity

We’re not going to lie, leadership is a tough skill. It’s even tougher if you don’t have much experience with it, and tougher still if you’re trying to learn on the fly.

That’s where we come in.

Motivosity is all about helping leaders go from good to great – regardless of where they sit on the totem pole. Whether you’re an experienced team lead looking to tone up or a brand-new face in the industry, we want to empower you to do more without wrecking your to-do list.

Wanna meet us? We’d love to meet you! Give us a shout at (801) 758-7188 to chat about your role, your team, and how our solutions can help.

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