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How to boost your team performance

Like any other skill, leadership is not a trait that you are born with. Consequently, everyone can learn how to lead a team effectively. There are numerous leadership styles described in books and articles, but common practice requires their combination and adjustment to suit the situation, the people involved, and the challenges at hand. However, some aspects of leadership are common to most styles and should always be considered if you aspire to guide a team through a challenging opportunity.

Creating a vision
Successful leaders create a vision and explain to their team why it is important for each member to support this common mission. A way to fully integrate each member of the team is to develop a vision together, so that everyone involved has a personal interest in achieving the team’s goals. Leading by example does not mean that you have to be better than your peers in the team, but rather showing the way and being accessible to support and direct the interest and focus of the team. As a leader it is your mission to get others to the current standard that is expected and then let them explore on their own, which provides the freedom needed for your team members to excel further. While it is important to be strict about keeping the goals that you developed with the team, it is also essential to remain flexible in the way you get there. Clear and frequent communication is key and bridges the gap between managing interests and keeping your team motivated.


Encouraging Trust
Emotionally intelligent leaders strive by creating an environment of trust, where employees and colleagues feel safe to express their honest opinion. Every day, employees make decisions about whether they are willing to go the extra mile to contribute to the organisation’s success. These are important decisions, because companies are more effective when employees are willing to go beyond their formal roles by helping co-workers, volunteering to take on special assignments, introducing new ideas and work practices, attending non-mandatory meetings, and so on. As a result, a critical task for successful leaders is to motivate their team to engage in these extra-role behaviours. Building trust between you as leader and your team can be achieved by providing autonomy for decision making. In other words, trust your team instead of micro-managing people, share responsibilities instead of appointing tasks, and recognise decisions and initiatives taken by your team members. By trusting your team, your team will trust you in return, because they feel appreciated and respected by you.

Accepting criticism
False leaders are afraid of conflict, whereas true leaders embrace conflict with open communication and solution-oriented discussions. True leadership is not about finding out whom to blame but finding ways to resolve tension between teammates and reach goals despite difficulties. Everyone makes mistakes and these are part of the process to reach challenging goals. To develop creative and innovative solutions it is necessary to explore diverse routes, but not all of them will lead to success. The key is to find ways that work for your team and your goals. A few failures on the way only show that you took new directions, and you got one step closer to your goal. As Albert Einstein said: “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new”

Asking for help
Great leaders are not afraid to ask for help when needed – and this indeed helps their reputation within the team and organisation. The concept explaining why this is both true and essential to become successful in leading a team is quite easy and logical. Hiding your weaknesses to appear strong in fact makes a weak leader. This is both unsustainable and poor leadership as your team won’t follow you or work harder for you if you are hiding your weaknesses from them. Instead, be authentic, be human, and share your shortcomings to get support when needed. Helping and supporting can make your peers proud and happy, which increases their motivation, and vice versa, your teammates will feel free to ask for help themselves when they need it to get unstuck in a process or find a solution for a problem. In return you will build trust in your team and get honest feedback, and you can be assured that you will be informed when difficulties arise, which more often than not is vital to completing projects and delivering the best quality possible.

Celebrating success
An often forgotten but essential part of a project is celebrating its completion and reflecting on the work done. This helps keep spirit and motivation of the team high and creates a culture of common goals that are worth achieving. A leader who does not celebrate successes will create a low team spirit and over time this will lead to decreased motivation and declined efficiency. Celebrating each accomplishment, small or big, will help prepare and energize the team for the next project.
Successful leaders combine different leadership styles and consider the described aspects daily. They create a clear vision and mission that boost a team to fully commit, deliver their best work, and achieve common goals together.

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