“To lead people, walk behind them.” – Lao Tzu
You have been ‘grinding’ at your former jobs, but you really want to be at the helm and run your own business, manage your own team. You don’t want to work for ‘the man’, you want to work for yourself, ‘the WOman’.
The questions to be answered are: how do you lead a new team; and how do you win them over?
First you must understand, what leadership is, and what it means to lead. According to Macmillan Dictionary the term ‘lead’ means to show someone the way to a place by going there with them; to be in control of an organization, group of people, or activity; to be in control of the way in which a discussion or conversation develops.
At Shecluded, we believe leading means helping your team accomplish a common goal. Leading means reading people, connecting with them, understanding their strengths and weakness and mentoring them to achieve success, for the greater good.
Below, are four to serve as a guide for entrepreneurs to take on this challenge of leading a team.
- Start With A Positive Mindset
You may have worked in or led other teams with individuals that you found difficult to work with or who did not share your vision. Do not start leading your new team with a negative mindset i.e. assuming the worst. Every team is different. Go in with not only a with a positive mindset but an open one as well. Be open to the possibility that you may potentially have very cooperative team members and be open to the reality that they will need to adjust to you as their leader.
- Learn About Your Team Members
A good leader would make an effort to get to know who they are leading. Learn about them as employees or colleagues and learn about them as people. Try to discover their strengths and learn how to use them to accomplish mutual goals. When you have a good grasp of this, it will help you know how to efficiently divide tasks among your team. Try giving them tasks that range from tasks they can handle to tasks that gradually push them out of their comfort zones.
Learn about your team members as people beyond their career, (i.e. their family life, hobbies and circumstances). A good leader also has compassion. If you are already somewhat aware of your colleagues’ personal circumstances, you may be more conscious about the workload you give them.
- Accept And Give Constructive Feedback
There may be team members who do not like nor accept feedback that speaks to their development areas. Some may even paint a bad picture of you because of it. As a leader of a new team, you may hope to win everyone over but at the end of the day, the purpose of your team is to collaborate and achieve a common goal. The purpose is not to make friends or become popular; if you do, it is a lovely bonus. A leader guides their team members to the finish line. There may be bumps on the way there, you have to step in and correct their mistakes so that the group can move forward.
Remember, you lead the team, but you are also part of the team. You can make mistakes as well. Be willing and open to receive feedback. Your team is not trying to undermine you, they share the same goal and want to achieve it. They all have different work and educational backgrounds, they may have worked at the company longer than you and may have worked on similar projects in the past. Even though they are subordinates, they are knowledgeable and can provide insight and guidance to you, the leader, to move the organization forward. When your colleagues give you feedback, don’t forget to say thank you.
“Accept both compliments and criticism. It takes both sun and rain for a flower to grow.” – Marek Kośniowski.
- Cultivate A Comfortable Environment
Working in a team usually involves listening to, and bouncing off, each other’s ideas. Some team members may be shy and struggle to voice their ideas. As a team leader, you need to provide a culture and environment that makes it easier for all colleagues to get their points across. For example, emailing their ideas and further thoughts to you after meetings. Afford each team member airtime to speak at meetings, especially the shy and introverted participants. Acknowledge each point made and make your colleagues feel like valued members of the team. Another way you can make them feel valued and comfortable in your team, is by thanking them for their contributions