Being a great team leader has an intrinsic value other than just being liked, but how do you know if you are one? And, if you’re not, how do you get better?

When asked to describe the best and worst bosses or line managers they have ever worked for, most people ignore innate characteristics such as intelligence, extraversion, attractiveness, and so on, and instead focus on qualities that are completely under the boss’s control, such as passion, insight, and honesty.

This means that any of us can study the qualities of great leaders in order to learn and improve. So what does it take? Here’s our SME Advisor expert opinion:

  1. Share information

    It can be short sighted to think that sharing information reduces power or authority. In fact, just the opposite is true: great leaders know that sharing information empowers their employees, instead of diluting their own power.

  2. Look for and celebrate wins

    Most people thrive on positive reinforcement and feedback. So look for reasons to praise employees or junior colleagues, both privately and publicly, and take the time to celebrate milestones, instead of just focussing on the next project or deadline.

  3. Be empathetic

    Try to understand things from the perspective of your team. Showing that you recognise they are human and treating them as such is a strength and not a weakness.

  4. Be accountable

    When something goes wrong, the buck stops with the leader. A large part of a leadership role is understanding that you are accountable for the team’s performance. It’s important to give the team feedback on what is going wrong, but the team leader takes the blame publicly. The next step is to see the team’s failure as a failure of leadership on their part, and act quickly to correct it – asking, ‘How can we improve?’

  5. Never forget that people have lives outside of work

    Great team leaders never forget that work is just one facet of their colleagues’ lives and that they have families, friends, hobbies, and other interests and obligations outside of work. This also means they don’t infringe on their ‘real’ lives—by asking someone to work late, for example —without a very good reason. And when they do have a good reason, they acknowledge that they’re asking for a sacrifice and express their gratitude accordingly.

  6. Be a great communicator

    A great team leader communicates clearly, concisely and honestly, so that other people don’t have to read between the lines or try to guess their real meaning.

  7. Lead by example and create future leaders

    A great team leader will get the very best out of their people. They inspire, coach, and lean into people’s strengths, and when their employees are ready for new challenges, they gladly send them on their way.

If you’re currently a boss or team leader, is this how your colleagues would describe you? If not, you’re leaving money, effort, and productivity lying on the table. You’re also probably losing some good employees, if not to other jobs, then at least to disengagement and lack of interest. 

SME Advisor can help. Our management training is designed to help inexperienced or new leaders focus and strengthen the skills that will set them apart from the pack. Contact us to find out more or download our brochure now.

The SME SafeCulture Leadership Brochure

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