How to lead teams…well!
Congratulations! You are leading a team and are now responsible for an organisation’s greatest asset — its people. These people will look to you for stability, guidance, and safety.
Finally, you can shape things exactly how you want and the perfect plan is in your head. But then, after a while, a humbling reality dawns on you. People are unique, one size does not fit all, and your plans need to be adapted.
In my experience, management training often falls short when it comes to preparing up-and-coming managers for the task ahead. As I see it, there is too little emphasis on the continuous personal investment, both emotionally and mentally, that one must make to be a great leader.
What is this investment, you may wonder? Well, it starts with looking deep within to understand yourself like you never have before. And then looking again. Incessantly. Ask yourself:
● What makes you tick?
● How do you communicate under pressure?
● How do you resolve conflict?
● Are you an active listener?
● How do you respond when someone criticises you?
Your most intense interactions will be with your team, so understanding yourself better will enable you to make these broadly positive exchanges.
It may seem strange I am talking about leadership without jumping straight into the standard management advice many might expect.
I firmly believe the best leaders begin with a profound mastery of themselves as people. There is an expectation (more often than not) that once trained, promoted, or given the responsibility, managers must be able to cope on their own. That is unfair. Essential to mastering themselves is the power of a support system. Every leader needs, as I call it, their “Person”. For the leader, this Person is a sparring partner, someone they can be vulnerable with, and also someone who, in those trying times (and there will be many), will give them the encouragement they need to keep going.
Making sure you have set up your team to be autonomous is crucial to success. This is a lesson that I had to learn the hard way and I shared my experience in a conversation with Jomiro Eming on his OfferZen podcast. The lessons were difficult but have gone a long way to making me a stronger leader who appreciates the value of an equally strong team.
People want to know what will happen if they fulfil their end of the bargain and do a fantastic job and the more transparent you are, the easier it is for them to know the impact of their actions. Invest time into establishing performance management standards, hold regular 1:1s, and create a culture of constant feedback, and, after all this, give people who are showing great promise the opportunity to shine.
So, how do you go about knowing yourself, communicating effectively with your team, and building both for optimal success?
Make your expectations clear — articulate what “good” looks like. Give clear examples, allow space for challenges and questions. When they have achieved, make sure to praise them. Gently push towards achieving stretch goals beyond their comfort zone. That bravery is the key to unlocking their fullest potential.
Psychological safety — we all want space to try things our way. That is a crucial part of growth, knowing we can and in any event, our Manager will have our back. Being a Leader includes taking full responsibility for your team’s actions. In private, it is prudent to provide wise counsel.
Keep communication channels open — your team needs to know they can reach you, reinforce often they can come to you anytime. Make sure it is crystal clear they are a priority.
360 feedback — lead by example and ask your team for feedback. Make sure you are mindful how you respond. If an opportunity to implement change as a result arises, do it! They will respect you for this.
Be yourself — there is nothing more rewarding than knowing you are succeeding being your authentic self. Authenticity is underrated yet widely respected.
Know your limits — it is inevitable the responsibility of leadership will come with stress. Whilst I do not believe it is healthy to portray an image of total perfection, it is important to be consistent in spite of circumstances. When you need a break, take it. Replenishing your own reserves is absolutely essential to sustained success for you and your team. Asking for help does not make you weak — quite the opposite. It demonstrates incredible strength and
Make time for fun — life does not have to be serious all the time and allowing time and space for fun is an important part of building strong interpersonal bonds.
Adapt your plans so that your promotion to leadership results in a thriving team. We all want this to be an event that both you and your team truly celebrate! I wish you all the very best on your amazing leadership journey 💛
— — — — — — — — — — — —
Chiedza Muguti is an active member of Auxilia- a group of women, passionate about increasing funding to Female founders. Chiedza is Head of Product at Penta- a leading business banking platform in Europe. She is a committed and motivated servant leader of high performing teams that deliver successful outcomes, based on collaborative ways of working and solution-driven thinking.