Leading a team is one of the biggest opportunities in any business, but it also comes with risks and challenges. You have to learn not just to execute your workload but to manage the different personalities on your team and help them coordinate their efforts to create the best possible outcome for the project and company.
The biggest factor in whether a team project succeeds or struggles is the effectiveness of its leader. Studies show that at least a third of people taking on a leadership role for the first time fail right out of the gate. Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can hone your leadership skills before you kick off your next project.
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If you want to lead a team effectively, you’ll need to be ready to manage a lot of details and moving parts, as well as differing personalities. This can be challenging even for experienced leaders, so it’s important to have plans to stay organized before you start. You’ll want a system that lets you and your team stay in contact and have all relevant information easily accessible.
Consider using an agile project management (APM) tool or a detailed chart that makes it easy to map out your progress and see what the next step is. APM tools are ideal for keeping everyone on the same page, doing regular check-ins, and ensuring that any schedule snags can be seen before they derail long-term plans.
No leader will be able to see a project through to its finish without communicating with their team. Different leaders will have different communication styles, but your team must know they can come to you with any questions or feedback and get an honest response. Team leaders can’t have an ego or be focused on their own goals instead of the team’s.
There may be unexpected challenges along the way to your project goals, and you can avoid many issues if your team feels they can come to you at the first sign of problems. Good leadership skills include open lines of communication, so your team feels they’re part of a genuine collaboration rather than just carrying out your plan.
No business model stays the same forever, and the best leaders know they have to think on their feet. Some changes will help your business take a leap into the future if you embrace them, while others will be more of a challenge. No matter what, it’s important to be flexible and think in advance about how your business can change and embrace new features.
You’ll want to be ready to embrace new technology and market trends as they arrive. This may mean preparing your team with training courses before new skills are needed and implementing new processes as they come down from management. Above all, make sure to treat new changes in your industry as a chance for greater success.
Leading a team isn’t always sunshine and roses, and your project will likely encounter some challenges along the way. Regardless of how the project is going, the energy you project will greatly affect your team and determine the effort they put into the project. You want to always give the impression to your team that you have faith in them and the overall project.
This is especially important when disaster strikes and the project faces a major setback. A bad turn can demoralize a team, and they’ll be looking to the leader for direction. You’ll be amazed at the difference in team motivation if the leader projects the impression that they still believe in the team and its work.
Your team isn’t just a project—it’s a learning opportunity for you and everyone involved. Your team is no doubt hoping that a good showing on your project will lead to greater opportunities for them, and supporting that on a personal and professional level does wonders for motivation.
Leaders always do better when their team members feel supported. Offer training and educational opportunities for those under you to reach their own leadership potential. This will eventually mean some people leave your team for their own leadership roles, and it’s important to support that. If your team is seen as a leadership pipeline, you’ll attract the best and brightest.
Lead the Way
Every great leader started out following one. By setting an example of leading with these simple tips, you’ll bring out the best in your own team. The best time to start is on the first day of a new project.
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