Ah! Team management… This is probably one of the most challenging roles for many entrepreneurs – being an expert in one’s professional field is one thing; being a good leader for your team is another…
Here are some essential tips to help you build an elite team, where all employees are fully engaged in pursuing common goals.
Give a clear direction
There is no good team without a leader who gives a clear direction. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to communicate clearly to your team your vision and goals for the next two, five and ten years.
These goals must be precise and include deadlines for them to be delivered by your team. Be sure to explain to each team member how important are the tasks they are performing in achieving the business goals.
In the end, what your team members are asking themselves (consciously or unconsciously):
- Where are we going? (So your vision 20 years old)
- Why are we going there? (Your “why”)
- What’s my contribution to achieving this vision? (Why is it important, what’s my role, my part to play)
A good leader sets the example and creates an environment that encourages motivation and commitment. To do this:
- Explain why you’re doing a specific action or undertaking such a project
- Regularly solicit the views and opinions of your team members
- Be open to comments that challenge some of your decisions – in other words, accept to be challenged
- Delegate roles and responsibilities (not just tasks)
- Use the expertise and interests of each member of the team
- Be grateful for everyone’s effort and share wins with the entire team
2 things that frustrate your team
Your success depends not only on how you conduct yourself as a leader, but also on how your team members follow you.
This brings us to the concept of “followership” which appeared in the early 1980s, a concept that refers to the role that some people play in an organization or team. More specifically, it’s the ability of a person to actively follow a leader. In short, followership is the reverse of leadership.
Followers play a key role in the success of a business. Unfortunately, their role is often overlooked because our culture tends to focus solely on leadership.
Take the example of Steve Jobs, an outstanding leader. He drove Apple towards excellence, but he wouldn’t have achieved so much success without the commitment of the “followers” who worked with him. Likewise, you can’t move to the next level without the support of your own “followers”.
The qualities of good followers
According to the book “In Praise of Followers” (Harvard Business Review), effective followers all have certain basic qualities:
- They manage themselves
The leader can delegate responsibilities to them with confidence. Team members provide a significant benefit to a business because they do not have to develop heavy and complex oversight processes.
Paradoxically, these followers are more likely to openly disagree with certain decisions and are less likely to be intimidated by hierarchy and organizational structure. They are followers, but not sheep…
- They are fully committed
Good followers see their leader as a guide on the way to a specific mission. They are ready to support him wholeheartedly if they feel that he wants to create a better world, to participate in the creation of something greater than himself.
On the other hand, if they feel that their leader is not fully engaged in this quest, they will turn away from him and possibly change jobs.
- They strive for excellence
Good followers set higher performance standards than what is basically required. They master the skills that are useful to their organization and continually strive to perfect them. For them, continuing education is second nature.
Usually, these followers are always looking for novelties and opportunities for advancement. Make sure you support them in their professional development.
- They are independent and cooperative
Finally, good followers have a great independent mindset and are trustworthy. They have critical thinking, high ethical standards and defend what they believe in. That said, they are excellent team players: they give Ceasar what belongs to Caesar, admit their mistakes and like to celebrate team success.
Now it’s your turn…
Don’t you find that the qualities of good followers are strangely similar to those of good leaders? Nothing is more normal, because the two are the pair: to be effective, a good leader must surround himself with good followers, and good followers will always follow the good leaders.
What about your business? Do your team members perceive you as a good leader and are they always ready to follow you?
Here’s my invitation to you, take a moment and evaluate – honestly – how good you are as a leader, by asking yourself the following questions:
- Am I the kind of leader I would like to follow myself?
- Why should my team follow me?
- Am I creating the kind of followership I really want?
Finally, I’ll leave you some reading suggestions, books that I found particularly interesting and that, perhaps, will help you enhance your own leadership:
- Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t
- Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership (in short, every book from John Maxwell!)
- The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life
Now, go out there, become the leader your team wants to follow!
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