Fostering Team Leadership: Strategies and Advice

2024 | 03 | 08
Foster team leadership with SuccessFinder

Team leaders play a decisive role not only in a company’s success but also in its employees’ well-being. Responsible for creating the proper conditions to achieve optimal levels of productivity and team fulfillment, these leaders propel employees towards achieving their objectives. How can you foster this type of team-oriented leadership within your organization? Here’s how...

By inspiring commitment, motivation, collaboration and self-improvement on the part of their peers, team leaders are vital to the company. Beyond their essential task to manage and collaborate, they also know how to build trust, maintain a clear course and nurture a culture where everyone feels included and heard. And this is what sets them apart from the managers of the past, whose technical skills are no longer enough.

In fact, it’s important nowadays to distinguish between traditional management, which organizes individuals to achieve business objectives, and team leadership, which instead aims to align and influence employees. And while management is often associated with a certain position in a company’s flow chart, leadership is more a quality that is constantly being developed.

Key Behaviors

Charismatic and a pace setter, a team leader is a must for today’s and tomorrow’s companies, where employees work from home, sometimes on the other side of the world and sometimes in another language. This reality of the post-pandemic working world requires managers to demonstrate greater adaptability in navigating between the virtual and the face-to-face, between pure supervision and collaboration, which is more demanding in human terms. So this calls for many soft skills, which can be innate, of course, but also developed over time:

  • Openness: team leaders firmly believe in the power of diversity – of ideas, opinions and perspectives. They encourage their team to contribute actively to projects to generate collective intelligence and, at the same time, demonstrate confidence in their employees.
  • Listening: goodbye inaccessible manager! Hello active listening team leader!
  • Accountability: team leaders are committed to being reliable and present for the employees, taking responsibility for their actions and results.
  • Communication: transparency, regularity and relevance are the watchwords of team leaders.
  • Humility: leaders will never hesitate to roll up their sleeves, whatever the task may be.
  • Attentiveness: knowing your employees, their needs, strengths and ambitions, is the hallmark of a team leader. Team leaders devote time and energy to their growth and development, because they know how essential this is.
  • Vulnerability: team leaders have no image to preserve or skills to prove. They admit when they are wrong or don’t have the answer, and know how to ask for help.

Naturally, as the coordination and supervision aspects are inherent to the manager’s function, a good leader will also have a certain level of knowledge of the industry in which their team evolves, so as to be able to guide them properly. They will also have solid skills in time and priority management, as well as in decision-making.

How Do We Foster Team Leadership?

The Quest for High Potentials

Don’t limit your search to past performance alone, or you risk missing out on a gem: for example, an employee who excels in a field he’s never explored before, an employee at the start of his career, or someone who hasn’t had access to mentoring, coaching and other development tools. According to this article, we should instead rely on the cognitive, emotional and motivational capacities of individuals to predict their leadership potential, not forgetting that these characteristics can be refined and developed over time.

Mentoring: Sharing Experience

While coaching guides employees in discovering their own solutions, and training focuses on learning specific skills, mentoring promotes the transmission of knowledge through the sharing of personal experience, which is a real advantage for aspiring leaders.

In fact, “leadership is essentially developed through day-to-day experiences, difficult tasks and missions, and by accompanying others in their development” and this is exactly what a mentor can bring to their mentee: concrete examples and sharing of successes and failures, which will enable the future leader to draw inspiration and develop their own style.

Recognition and Consideration

Keeping employees motivated is an integral part of the team leader’s mission, and expressing gratitude is key. But please note: it’s more than just a simple reward, here it’s a question of really recognizing an individual’s contribution, for example by entrusting them with responsibility for a project that will stimulate them, by offering them development opportunities, etc.

By listening to the team and allowing everyone to express themselves, a leader will highlight achievements in a personalized way that is adapted to everyone’s needs, thus going beyond recognition to promote consideration.

An Essential Investment

Without competent and motivated employees, companies cannot succeed: on paper, it’s easy to see why investing time and resources in professional development is vital. But in a difficult socio-economic context, some organizations are reluctant to put their hand in their wallets, and, to cut short-term costs, they limit or even eliminate training budgets.

But numerous studies have shown that investing in leadership development enables companies to place the right people in the right positions, thereby promoting long-term productivity, innovation, retention, and most importantly, their ability to succeed in the marketplace when the latter takes over: ease of adaptation to new requirements, new technologies, new processes, etc. Food for thought indeed!

Honesty and Acceptance

In an uncertain and changing environment, it’s natural for most people to want to avoid difficult discussions. After all, why add to your plate when it’s already full? The answer is simple: sticking your head in the sand and pretending everything’s fine when it’s not has never worked for anyone, especially in a professional setting.

So invite criticism, encourage constructive and consistent feedback, and accept that you (and your team) can live with negative, sometimes difficult emotions.

Because by being transparent at the right time, things don’t have time to get worse or become dramatic. So you can move on more quickly and with serenity.

A Positive Work Environment

Fostering positivity at work can have a greater impact than you think on the meaning your teams give to their assignments.

By fostering positive practices such as mutual trust, respect, recognition and consideration, team leaders promote commitment and overall performance, as well as a social climate that inspires healthy self-improvement.

Team Spirit, Rain or Shine

Employees are human beings, not machines. So rather than getting exhausted in the quest for the perfect team dynamic, it’s better for leaders to get to know their colleagues, so as to deal with their personalities and create a healthy emulation, the kind that will be optimal for their team.

Leading by example, keeping one’s word, trusting others, sharing information, avoiding secrecy and addressing workplace gossip… These are all simple attitudes for the team leader to adopt, but they will contribute concretely to creating a strong sense of belonging within the group.

Self-Awareness, a Must Have for a Team Leader

According to an MIT study, self-awareness is a decisive condition for successful leadership since it directly influences a company’s performance.

Easy to say, but not always easy to do, especially as managers are often super busy. But there are tools available to help leaders get to know and understand themselves better, such as those offered by SuccessFinder.

Behavioral science has a key impact on the development of leaders, encouraging them to assess themselves in different contexts, roles and corporate cultures. It also encourages them to remain curious, to seek feedback and to take nothing for granted. So it’s actually possible to make continuous progress in this area , and present yourself to your team as a flexible and vulnerable leader, two adjectives which were previously incompatible with this function, and now at the very heart of its definition.

We can’t emphasize it enough: team leaders are essential to a company’s success. To foster effective leadership, we need to recognize key behaviors, invest in professional development, offer mentoring, recognize achievements, provide constructive feedback, create a positive environment and promote proactive self-awareness. Because, as Scott Blanchard, CEO and co-owner of Blanchard, having worked alongside the world’s leading organizations for over 30 years, puts it: “the success or failure of any business depends directly on the quality of its leaders.” That’s a valid reason for investing in them, right?

Written by
Aurore Le Bourdon

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