How to Be a Better Leader of Your Team

A recent article about leadership piqued my attention and I thought it was worth sharing some of the key points. A number of leaders today are oblivious to the fact that they are simply poor leaders. In these cases, teams can sometimes feel that the leadership provided is focussed on making them miserable, or they feel ignored, or they don’t have the right resources to be successful. Not a great way to grow and nurture a team to be successful, I’d suggest.

There are a number of reasons why team members may feel like this. Sure, you may have the wrong people in the wrong roles, but let’s assume you have done a good job with recruiting a strong team, so it’s not the people, it’s the leader.

  • Reason 1, the direction and support you provide is inappropriate. There is a challenge between giving too much information and constantly checking up on people who don’t need it – the classic case of micro-managing. Or doing the opposite and not providing enough information assuming your people can just get on and do it, yet this leaves them floundering and feeling inadequate.
  • Reason 2, relying too much on your power and the position you hold. Research tells us that relying on your power undermines people’s ability to feel motivated as well as stifling innovative thinking. Power also tends to promote fear and your team tend to do what you say without challenging even when it’s the wrong decision.
  • Reason 3, assuming you know how your people think, what motivates them etc without actually finding out. In so many cases the assumptions we make about people are often wrong, and if we don’t know what they need to be the best they can be, we can’t provide it.

What can leaders do to improve their overall leadership skills and get the best out of their people?

The secret is to develop each individual contributors’ skills and knowledge as well as developing their own leadership skills. To do this you have to get to know each of your team and work out a development plan. This also means knowing who you can leave to get on and do things and who will need more intervention and follow up. Training your individual team members to take ownership is the key and allowing them to make mistakes to learn.

It’s also being open as a leader to allow your team to ask questions when they need to, as well ask for what they need to be successful and providing this to them. Too many times we set our teams up to fail by not providing adequate induction or ongoing training to help them be successful.

Another area to help them grow is to wean them off coming to you for answers, instead of developing their problem-solving skills to provide that independence and accountability. Start off my modeling great problem-solving skills yourself and then challenge the team to take over. The classic way is to ask their opinion instead of just providing the answer.

The challenge is of course to find the time to develop your team, it’s much faster to just be directive and tell them what to do and solve all the problems yourself. However, this doesn’t develop your team and they become too over-reliant on you. That’s not leadership, that’s just managing!

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.