Leading Teams

Those with the best skills at Leading Teams have made the shift from being responsible to being accountable.

There is a difference.

Loosening the ties and enabling your team to get on with the project, or day to day operation of your business is the cornerstone of Leading Teams.

And your leadership becomes a different role – that of blending together people who look up to you for vision, guidance and showing the way.

“Most teams aren’t teams at all but merely collections of individual relationships with the boss. Each individual vying with the others for power, prestige and position.”

Douglas McGregor

How does this differ from Team Building?

Well, it’s a step beyond. It’s not just the building – it’s how you go about growing the business. And that’s a different ball-game.

Top Ten Things About Leading Teams

To evolve your business to real success, you have to have a whole bunch of exemplary skills. The good news is that Leading Teams is a learnable skill. You can do this – using some of the ideas below.

The very best at Leading Teams

  1. Have a Vision
    Which they share fully with their team members. Whilst Visioning is a skill all by itself, the concept of sharing that Vision is passionate.
  2. Involve Others
    Whilst there is a lot of importance in leading from the front and creating the future they need, those great at Leading Teams go further. They get others involved at the very start – they have clear ‘inclusivity’ in creating the Vision for the business future. This is leading.
  3. Blend and Merge
    They have a bigger view of the team – they are aware of potential team members way in advance and plot! They also have the foresight to prepare for the future by generating development opportunities.
  4. Step Back
    Content with and confident of their team, the very best let their team get on with the job in hand. They do other things, future things, to build other elements of the business. They are pleased to let others do their own jobs well.
  5. Recruit Well
    Generally, great leaders of teams will recruit others who are better at their own role than the leader. This is a team effort and leadership is one angle. Expert specialists are another. That frees the team leader to be a little offline and ask interesting questions.
  6. Skilled
    Question – do those great at Leading Teams need to have all the skills of those in the team? Answer – no, but a working knowledge is good. As we’ve said earlier, it is a great team leader who takes on relevant experts in his team. But a working knowledge helps.
  7. Knows Pitfalls
    Experience has shown the circumstances where problems may crop up. Great team leaders are there for their teams and as Steven Covey says, ‘There are wild animals out there’. No need for their team to get eaten! They help them through.
  8. Have Excellent People Skills
    They have been able to develop great skills with rapport, listening, supporting, coaching, discipline and more. Great team leaders really understand people and get the best out of them all – whatever their nature.
  9. Charisma
    Great team leaders have charisma – that almost indefinable quality that lifts them above the rest. They get on well with people and people like them. This isn’t a skill – it’s not learnable, but it is sometimes a hidden ability. They know all about it and use it well.
  10. Accountable
    Those best at Leading Teams take the fall when the going gets tough – it is just not done to blame everyone else. The best team leaders don’t fail often – but they know the buck stops with them…

Ten Ways to be Better at Leading Teams

  1. Lead!
    With your team, take the initiative, show the passion and get things moving. Take it as your personal focus that will grow this business and show it off!
  2. Set an Example
    Whatever the team comes up with, be open to. You know you can’t do it all, yet if you veto everything, them they will get cheesed off. Learn communication skills which enquire rather than reject.
  3. Behave Yourself
    As well as ideas, where changes have to be made, be a part of it. It’s no good saying it’s OK for everyone else except you – you must be in the mix. Model changes in behaviours.
  4. Plan Ahead
    Get your Succession Planning right for the future by watching for potential, nurturing new talent. When you are Leading Teams you have the space for this work, if you are realistic enough with what you let go.
  5. Accept Feedback
    By being open to feedback, others will be too. You will find this hugely empowering for your team members. Let them be creative about you and your learning. Accept you aren’t perfect (by the way – this in itself builds great relationships)
  6. Fight for Your Team
    You need to be brave for them – they look to you to fly their flag. Can you do that? Can you get really persuasive with your bosses and other stakeholders?
  7. Let People Go Sometimes
    In two circumstances, you need to let people go. When they aren’t performing and when they are ready for the next step. Be the person who delivers this.
  8. Have Humour
    In context, have fun, share jokes and enjoy a happy team! Leading your team means that you get silly sometimes – yep, you’ve got to be controlled – but when was the last time you all had fun? What memories will you hold?
  9. Say No
    Be prepared to say no sometimes! It’s OK to do this. Your team will understand as long as it is consistent and fits the overall vision. Even when it doesn’t, they want consistency – so be ready.
  10. Be Humble and Proud
    Whilst you don’t need to get to emotional about it – subtly admit that you are impressed by your people; that they do you proud. Be like this with them and to others. It will get back to them and this will be an enormous boost for them and for your team.

5 Simple Actions You Can Take Today!

  • Assess your team for it’s strengths and weaknesses – decide a game plan for perfecting the mix.
  • Have some fun – let fun things happen – in the moment even At your next team meeting perhaps!
  • Listen only the next time the team meets – yep, you got it – the whole time – just listen.
  • Make space for a review of the past year and the goals of the next -be inclusive in the consideration of what that future might look like – do some Visioning activities together.
  • Ask for feedback about how you are doing – just ask it that way – ‘How am I doing?’

Read some great books – like:-

“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” – Patrick Lencioni
“Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances”– J. Richard Hackman
“The Wisdom of Teams : Creating the High-Performance Organization (esp. Chapter 7)” – Jon R. Katzenbach, Douglas K. Smith

There’s also more great books in Team Building.