In the constantly changing world of business, nothing is more important for a leader than effectively establishing trust and communication with their team. Ideally, this could be done with minimal investment of time and resources. Here are five pillars for leading and building a high performance team.
1. Have Definable Goals and Communicate Them Clearly
To lead a team, you must first know where you are leading them and you must be able to communicate the destination effectively. One of the easiest ways to frustrate a team is to keep them in the dark about what you want to accomplish or provide muddled directions. You need to have clearly defined goals and a history of success in accomplishing tasks and meeting deadlines. The team must know exactly what you expect them to accomplish and they must know exactly how they can be successful. To do this in business, in life, or any area, it is important to practice together, and it is important to develop your own personal team leading skills.
2. Build Trust in Your Team
One of the best qualities in a leader is the ability to build trust in a team. A team of people can work together, or they can work against each other. The easiest way to derail a project, or a career, is for the leader to have team members undermining their leadership because they have no confidence or trust in the leader. The fastest way to motivate everyone on the team to work towards a common goal is to gain the trust of the team. There is no shortcut to for this in the long run. You must make clear decisions that lead to positive outcomes over time. These outcomes need to be observable by the team members. While this type of trust typically takes months or even years to develop, you can simulate it and kick-start the process using games for teamwork building and through other team building activities.
3. Be Intentional About Developing Your Team
A team isn’t developed overnight. However, with the transient nature of employees and a constantly changing workforce, it is silly to imagine that your team can learn to trust you through years and decades of working together. Employers want immediate results, and the best employees will quickly move elsewhere if they don’t feel like they are a good fit or don’t feel comfortable with their leaders. How does a leader build trust quickly? They can try the tried and true method of games for teamwork building. This gives the team an opportunity to define clear goals, listen to the leader, work together to accomplish the goals in a defined amount of time, and foster trust and community in a brief period of time.
There are numerous resources to help busy leaders accomplish quality team building. There are games and resources available online for free or a nominal fee. Many companies bring in facilitators from outside to lead team building sessions, or go to a nearby camp that offers team building activities. Once your team trusts you, you must continue to perform and prove yourself worthy of their trust by developing your team leading skills.
4. Take Steps to Reduce Employee Stress
It is difficult for a team to perform well if it is constantly under pressure to succeed. One way to reduce work-related stress is to put all of the pressure on yourself as the team leader. If the team fails to meet a goal, you should be the one to take the blame even if it wasn’t your fault. What this does is allows your people to focus more on doing the job right and less on doing the job on deadline. As stress at the workplace has become an increasingly serious problem, keeping as much pressure off of your people as possible makes it less likely that they will get sick or hurt themselves on the job. This ensures that they are on the job ready to get the most from their efforts
5. Continue to Develop as a Leader
The final pillar is important: the necessity of continually developing your team leading skills. There are numerous resources available for leaders to grow in wisdom and practice. All the bonding and good will you achieve through the games you play will be for nothing if you fail your team in the real world. Take your early success and build on it by developing your own communication and leadership skills. Read books and articles by leaders whom you admire and try to write down and practice the skills they recommend. See what works in your context and get rid of the things that don’t. Go to workshops and training seminars. Try to further your education and develop your skills. Never be content with yourself as you are, but instead try every day to get better.
Have definable goals, earn the trust of your team, be intentional about developing your team, and continue to develop personally as a leader. These are four pillars of a quality team leader. However, there are no magic bullets in business, or life. Take what works for you, but most importantly, never stop trying and never stop learning. Build your team and accomplish your goals.