My 7 tips to become the team leader that others want to follow

How do I get the best out of my team?

This is a question I quite frequently get during my coaching sessions.  It is often raised by very experienced subject matter experts who are assigned to lead a project team.

Usually, they tell me stories about how hard they work and that their team is not getting into action, not getting the results, not really acting as a team, not delivering above expectations, not acting as a high-performing team…..

Throughout the years, I have invested in learning about team leadership and building high-performing teams. In this blog I am sharing 7 tips to become the team leader that others want to follow.

1. Get to know yourself & others

We all have a difference perception of the world. Our brains unconsciously filter information based on our values, beliefs, experiences, memories and decisions. This creates an internal representation, feelings, thoughts and dialogue, which in turn generates certain emotions that drive our behavior, verbal and non-verbal communication.

Understanding others and be curious about their perception of the world is extremely powerful if you want to become a high-performer.

Knowing yourself and others allows you to adjust your communication to meet their preferred style and makes you more effective in reaching your goals.

Personality assessments, like MBTI, DISC, Discovery Insights and many others are a great way to learn about yourself and your team members.  That is why these kind of tests are so popular.

My tip: Click here to do a Free Personality Test | 16Personalities, just to get a first impression of your preferred style.

2. Improve your listening skills

Most of us work in complex organizations and virtual cross functional teams. You probably agree with me that this is fun, but also has it’s challenges…. It happens often that people do not fully understand each other and may draw premature conclusions or do not see good intentions.

Did you know that there are 3 ways of listening?

  • Level 1: Listen to Speak: While others speak, you are already thinking about the next thing you want to say, how you want to reply. This usually creates misunderstandings and often makes you to miss key information in conversations.
  • Level 2: Listen to Hear: While others speak, you are actively paying attention to what is said. You are totally focused on the other person and make sure you listen to everyone. This is a great way to build rapport and trust.
  • Level 3: Listen to Understand: While others speak, you are not only paying attention to what others are saying, but also try to understand what they mean. People often do not specify underlying feelings or thoughts behind their words. In some cultures you are expected to “read between the lines” and simply “understand” what is meant. This does not come natural to everyone.

My tip: Repeat and summarize in your own words what the other has said as you understand it. If this is not what they meant, you give them a chance to explain it again.

3. Understand how culture influences everything

“Culture” plays a big role in everything we do. It is one of the most powerful filters in our brain and also one that is hard to change or ignore.

Nowadays, most of us work in international teams with colleagues or clients with different cultural backgrounds. You probably agree with me that this is fun, but also challenging.

My tip: Read the book the “The Culture Map” written by Prof. Erin Meijer. This book as given me so much insight and helped to improve my collaboration with colleagues from other regions dramatically! If you want to get a first impression of the book, please read this blog:

4. Define what kind of leader you want to be

We all have role models of leaders we would like to follow. This could be a teacher at school, a former boss that has inspired you, a leader in your organization, a politician, an artist, an athlete, a successful business (wo)men….

My tip: Sit down and take a piece of paper and a pen and write down everything you admire in that person. What makes them great leaders? What do they do? What do they say? How do they say it? What is their posture?  Etc.

I really want you to use handwriting, because that triggers a different part of your brain than when you type.

5. Understand your role as a leader

We all want our team to deliver above expectations, right? But how do you do this?

There is not one way, not one size fits all, to achieve that. In my experience it starts with taking the time to clarify your teams vision, goals and objectives and everyone’s roles and responsibilities. That is the role of the team leader. If you do not actively take that role, the team will be at best a good performing team.

My tip: Understand the difference between managers and leaders and actively take the leadership role when that is assigned to you. Don’t assume someone else will do it for you or that the team can do this without any guidance from you.

6. Understand team dynamics and lead your team through it

All teams go through phases. Each phase has it challenges and needs leadership to go through each phase. The phases are shown below. If your team get’s stuck in forming or storming, it will not be delivering above expectations.

Tip: read this article to learn more about team dynamics: How to successfully go through the Five Stages of Team Development

7. Understand what is holding you back to be the leader that others want to follow.

Very few people are natural leaders that everyone wants to follow. Like for professional athletes, the best performers work on their leadership mindset as well as developing their leadership skills.

In my experience, it is key to understand what is holding you back to be the great leader that you want to be. Research and also my personal experience has clearly showed that thoughts, opinions and beliefs may get in the way of good intentions.

If these thoughts, opinions and beliefs are not helpful then it is time to replace these with new beliefs. Sounds logical, right? How do you do that?

Tip: When something happens and you feel a negative emotion popping up. Stop yourself and write down the negative thoughts you have about yourself, others and this situation. Then, think what would be a more helpful thought that will bring you closer to your goals.

What’s next?

Are you the perfect team leader after reading this blog? No, of course not….

My advice…. Do as any professional athlete that is eager to reach the top. Find a passionate and experienced coach that will support you to identify and break through obstacles that are holding you back to become the leader others want to follow.

I would like to offer you to a free coaching session (really – no strings attached) to show you the power of coaching. Click here to book a call with me!

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