6 Tips For Becoming A Better Team Leader

tulips-175605_640We all at times have times where we have to take control and become a leader. It’s a natural instinct to want to lead and thus it’s important that we can do it efficiently. Most commonly, a leader arises in the workplace. This may be from either an assigned role or by naturally taking on the position when working with a group of people. But, whether you are a good team leader is a different story and so here are 6 vital tips to take on board.

Communicate

The ability to clearly and effectively communicate is a trait of any good leader. You should be able to inform your people what is expected of them to complete a particular project. At the same time, since communication is a two-way street, you should be able to effectively listen to what your people have to say. The people who report to you should be able to come to you with their concerns and ideas and know that they will be seriously considered.

Do Not Micromanage

One of the hardest things for a leader to do, especially if he or she has done the job that is now being delegated, is to point their people in the right direction and let them do their jobs. If you have competent, experienced people working for you, you should not have to constantly stand over their shoulders, directing their every move.

Be Supportive

Sometimes someone reporting to you runs into a problem that needs your intervention. Maybe someone from another department is not being as cooperative as they could be. Maybe a dispute has arisen between two or more of your people that needs arbitrating. You should also make sure that your people have everything they need to do their jobs in the form of equipment, software, personnel, and access to information.

Be Assertive

A good leader knows when to be assertive, whether it is making sure that a meeting moves along and everyone stays focused, or when a higher-up makes demands that cannot be addressed in the time and with the resources that are available. Assertiveness is a middle ground between aggressiveness, which could cause conflict and pushback, and passivity, which means that you will get rolled over and your concerns ignored, if you’re worried about your level of assertiveness then it may be wise to take an online assertiveness test, where you can find out where you are on the passivity-assertiveness-aggressiveness scale.

Be Fair

It is a good rule of thumb that praise should be offered in public, where it can be heard by others, and criticism should be done in private, so that the employee is not embarrassed and so that the exchange can be done in confidence. Praise should be offered as an encouragement, not only for the person being so honored, but to set an example for others to aspire to. Criticism should not be given punitively, but as an opportunity to explore what issues the particular employee may be experiencing that is keeping him or her from performing at top effectiveness. The idea is to provide help to any of your people who might be having problems and to communicate to them what needs to happen to get them back on track.

Do Exude Confidence, Tempered with Humility

A good leader is always confident, even in the face of adversity. An air of confidence can be infectious, inspiring the people who report to you to go above and beyond. However, this quality should not morph into overweening pride. If you make a mistake, admit to it, find a solution, and move on. Remember, as a leader, the success or failure of your team is your responsibility.

If you want to become a better team leader, then it’s extremely important to adapt your body language and approach to tasks and communication and this way, you will be able to assert a more authoritative role and effectively manage your team. Try adapting some of these tips into your approach and hopefully you will soon see the benefits.

Why mumpreneurs are leaders

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What springs to mind when you think of the word ‘leadership’? If its an image of a middle aged man in a suit running a huge corporation, then you’re only scratching the surface of leadership. In this post I’m going to explain how leadership goes way beyond executive leadership development. In fact leadership is something you will ‘do’ every day as a mum and probably as a mumpreneur, too.

First of all, the traditional picture of a leader sitting at the top of a hierarchy is no longer true. An effective leader is one who takes the opposite approach and looks at how she can best serve the people she leads, rather than how the people can serve her. Although this concept became more common from the 1970s onwards, the idea of a leadership being about service rather than being served goes way back to ancient times and philosophies.

Good leadership does involve making decisions and taking responsibility but it’s for the good of the people and the organisation, rather than for the status and personal gains of the leader. Good leaders are followed because people trust and respect them, rather than the skills they possess. Leadership is about behaviour first, skills second.

Many areas in your life and work will be a question of learning skills and applying them in a consistent way, but leadership is very different because it depends on your personal and emotional strengths, plus how you behave in any given situation. Often there are no right answers, and finding the best path depends on the experience and confidence of the leader.

If this is starting to sound familiar, then it’s because as a parent, you’re already a leader!

So what’s the difference between leadership and management?

According to BusinessBalls.com:

“This is a simple way to see how leadership is different to management:

  • Management is mostly about processes.
  • Leadership is mostly about behaviour.”

Management is about planning, organisation, measurable outcomes and communicating these to a team. Leadership includes these to some extent, but its focus is on the less tangible things like trust, inspiring others and decision-making.

If you’re a solo business owner you’re probably only managing yourself and your own workflow. But you’ll be a leader of your audience and your clients because they will want to trust you, to feel that you are able to make good decisions and to expect you to have integrity, commitment and courage.

And your children will look to you for these leadership qualities, too.

If that sounds a little daunting – and it shouldn’t because you’ve already had more practice than you realise! –  how can you brush up your leadership skills? Well, that’s a big question for a short article, but here are some tips:

1. Be a good listener and communicator

Often the people around you will tell you what they want from you if you pay attention to them. That sounds easy, but when you’re busy it’s easy to not give people the attention they need to get the message across to you fully. Also pay attention to how you communicate back to them and how you might improve that.

2. It’s OK to make mistakes

If you’re not making any mistakes then you’re not trying enough new things! Just make sure you handle the mistake gracefully.

3. Have a great team around you

The best leaders aren’t intimidated being surrounded by smart, capable people. In fact, it pays to have some smarter than you! As we’ve seen above, leadership isn’t about technical or even management ability.

Which leadership skills do you already have?

What I learned about business from James Caan

James Caan photographed in London September 2012Do you like reading about well-known entrepreneurs? True, they are in a totally different league to most of us little business owners but it’s great to be able to tap into their experience, mindset and way of doing business.

Yesterday I came across an interview with James Caan (ex-Dragon’s Den Dragon) on the Heathrow Express website.

Incidentally, I’ve never actually been on the Heathrow Express – which is a train service that links London’s Paddington Station to Heathrow. But I’m all too familiar with the horrors of the M25 near Heathrow and hauling luggage around London on the Tube. So the Heathrow Express sounds like a great idea to me!

The first piece of good news from James Caan is that you don’t have to be a born entrepreneur to succeed in business. Experts often give the impression that you’ve either got it or you haven’t, so it’s great to read that entrepreneurship is something that can be learned.

James also suggests that taking risks and leading people are key parts of being an entrepreneur. Many women, especially those with children, are very risk averse. And while I’m not suggesting we put our families in  financial peril,  it would be helpful if we took a look at our attitudes to risk every now and then to see if we are holding ourselves back through habit or fear, rather than because it makes sense to do so.

As for leading people, most Business Plus Baby readers are solo business owners and freelancers, so you may be thinking this isn’t relevant to you. But the longer I’m in this strange world where family and business cross over, the more I realise that being a leader is a state of mind than a job description. As mothers, we’re leaders in our own families – yes, sometimes we may feel like we’re just the cooks and cleaners – but we’re the hub of the family, the one that keeps it all moving. I’d certainly call that leadership.

Being a leader means that your clients will have confidence in you and your abilities, even if you are a one-person business. That leadership mindset also makes you more likely to think bigger and hire people when you might otherwise struggle on doing all the tasks yourself.

Later in the article, James Caan highlights the importance of self-confidence. This is another area where mums struggle – in fact I wrote about my own struggles with self doubt here at BPB just a couple of weeks ago.  But James is right, if you don’t believe in yourself then you’ll have a tough job convincing other people to believe in you.

Don’t despair because self-confidence can be learned just like anything else. There are loads of techniques you can use to feel better about yourself, from simply taking enough time to rest and exercise to reflecting on things you’ve done well in the past. Don’t let your self-confidence put the brakes on your business, just working through the activities in a book or online course could make a huge difference.

Finally, James Caan says that the best way to be creative is to put yourself in the right environment and mindset. To make sure you’re in a place where your opinions are valued and trusted, ideally in a group setting. Again, this could be where us solo business owners are missing a trick. You don’t have to be alone if you’re a one-person businesses, there are tons of opportunities to find like-minded business owners online and at local networking groups. So don’t be shy, go out and find the right environment to nurture your creativity!

Which entrepreneurs do you listen to?