Enthusiastic Team Members are essential

You can’t be a good leader if no one wants to follow you.  You can push some people or drag others out of fear. But we all know that doesn’t work in the long term and it certainly doesn’t bring out the best in your team.  Here are some guidelines that will have people raising their hands to be enthusiastic team members.

What do enthusiastic team members look like today?

In a nutshell, teams look, feel and act differently today than they did even five years ago.  Teams are more diverse.  Gender, race, and generational differences must be taken into consideration in order to maximize everyone’s unique perspective to inspire creativity and innovation.  Teams don’t feel the same. More companies have multiple locations. Employees can work remotely and so not all team members will be working in the same place.

Technology advances have caused teams to act differently.  Skype, video conferencing, and mobile technology have created a variety of different channels and ways that teams interact and communicate. Today’s leaders must adjust to these changes when figuring out how to bring teams together both figuratively and literally.

Understanding who is on your team

A person’s experience, education, and a variety of other factors impact how they behave and react in various situations.  If you are going to lead a team, you must first understand the team members as individuals.  A leader who understands the strengths and weaknesses of team members individually will consequently understand the strength and opportunities of the team as a whole.

To lead a team effectively, you must persuade team members to contribute in a way that utilizes their strengths and enables the team as a whole to be successful.

Questions to ask yourself

  • How do they learn best? How do they like to receive feedback? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How as a leader can you create an environment that embraces these differences and still allows for collaboration?

Bring the team together

A good way to build a strong team foundation is to include everyone from the beginning whenever possible.  Bring the group together and solicit their opinions and feedback regarding the path you wish to take and whether they foresee any potential roadblocks.

Gathering information and opinions does not mean you won’t be making the final decision but by including the team in the process, you increase their engagement, they feel valued, and you build trust through listening.

People respond better to someone who guides them through empowerment and who shows confidence in their abilities to contribute as an individual to the team.  Participation is a great way to empower and show confidence in your team members.

Know where you are going to lead them

You have to know the final destination and with that vision, be able to articulate where you are going. If you want to lead someone somewhere, they need to trust that you know where you are going and that you understand the best route to take to get there.

You need to share where you are today and where you are going to end up. Additionally, you need to articulate how you are going to get there.  Finally, you need to provide direction by establishing short-term goals that will enable you to reach the long-term goals.

Know how to communicate the direction you need to go

To create enthusiastic team members you need to set expectations clearly on how fast you want to move, the direction you want to go, the quality of work you expect from them, and how obstacles are going to be handled.

Keeping the project and the team on track

A good leader will have measurements to evaluate if progress is being made on the established goals.  A leader will also hold each individual accountable for their contribution.  To effectively lead a team, and create enthusiastic team members, a leader must know when and how much support and guidance each person needs to be successful.  A leader must be able to direct or redirect the individuals and the team as necessary to stay on track.  This may involve making adjustments along the way to stay on track or get back on track in a timely manner.

Navigating bumps in the road

Getting off track can happen for a number of reasons.  Some may be out of the control of the team and others may be caused by one or more team members.  Regardless of how it happened, a leader must recognize it has happened and gets the team heading back in the right direction.

This does not mean criticizing or placing blame if issues arise along the way.  A good leader will be a good problem solver and be able to persuade the team to see and understand why adjustments need to be made.

In these situations, a leader must be able to demonstrate strong communication skills and be able to resolve conflicts.

When you have reached your goal, give credit to your team

Remember there is no “I” in “Team” and this is never as apparent to your team members as when accolades are being given out at the end of a project.  Be sure to give praise and recognize people’s contributions. A leader understands that if there is a failure, as the leader, you should shoulder the responsibility of that failure but share the praise of success.

Leading a team is not easy but it can be tremendously rewarding.  A title may be given to you but you must earn being followed.

Cathy Muldoon, Your Guide to Growth & Success, is founder of Growth-Passion-Success LLC. Having worked as an executive recruiter for over 14 years, Cathy brings a wealth of experience to her clients, providing seminars, training, executive coaching and customized programs on a variety of HR related issues. Cathy is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management and a graduate of the National Speakers Association Academy.