What’s the best team you’ve ever been on?
Teams come in all shapes and sizes. Was your best team one of the following?
- High school sports team
- Project team at work
- Community organization
As you think about your best team, hopefully, you’re recalling the great memories of what it was like to work collaboratively with your teammates towards a common goal and receive focused coaching that inspired you to perform to your potential.
There’s nothing like working with a great team, one where you feel valued and are able to contribute in meaningful ways.
Now, think of a team you’ve been on that’s been less-than-best. Just that thought is frustrating, right?!
Sadly, far too many of us have been on less-than-best teams that had elements of dysfunction, low trust, and persistent conflict that left everyone feeling deflated and unmotivated. We’re going to talk about the leadership skills and qualities that help build a great team.
The Common Element in a Great Team Is That There Is Leadership Present
Conversely, leadership traits are absent in less-than-best teams. Demonstrating leadership skills isn’t just the responsibility of the individual who’s in charge of a team. Leadership can be expressed by anyone, at any level.
Knowing this, it makes sense that we should all commit to developing our leadership skills so that whenever a group of people gather, we can bring our “A Game” to the team and have a positive influence on others.
One individual who can demonstrate the qualities of a good leader has the potential to shape the tone and engagement of those around them. One individual can, in fact, build a team simply by utilizing strong leadership traits.
A List of Leadership Skills and Qualities To Be a Great Teammate
Here’s a list of leadership skills and qualities that you can begin to implement immediately to be a great teammate and leader among your team.
- It’s Not about You … It’s the Team. The team comes first and strong egos aren’t welcome. Too many strong egos and there’s constant conflict. When you work on a team, your goal isn’t to be right, win, get your way. Your goal should always be about how you can help advance the team towards success and be a great team player to others. As leaders, we need a healthy ego to perform … but we should also ensure we keep it in check. To support this, reflect constantly on the greater goal of the team and how you can contribute to a collective win.
- Take Time to Invest in Relationships. The strength of any team is the connection team members have with each other. The more you know someone, the more you can trust them. Trust is the gateway to high performance. In high-trust teams, individuals can depend upon one another. The deeper the relationship, the more willing you are to go the extra mile to ensure you set others up for success. To develop relationships, invest in getting to know the interests, preferences, and styles of others.
- Narrow Your Say-Do Gap. Team members have to be counted on. To ensure you’re dependable, mind your say-do gap. In other words, it’s the space between your actions and your words. Your say-do gap represents your credibility; when it’s narrow, people know you’ll follow through. When it’s wide, when you say one thing and do another, you reveal your inconsistency. Don’t make people have to guess if you’ll keep your commitments. Take pride in your performance and honor your promises with action.
- Talk about Problems Openly. Great teams always want to get better. So, if something isn’t working, be the type of team member who has the courage to address it. When you talk about problems, don’t talk about people and personalities – focus on the behavior that needs to improve. Accountability-based discussions go south quickly when personalities are brought into the mix and people get defensive. Don’t make it personal … make it about performance.
- Ask for Feedback. A high-performing team is composed of individuals who are always looking for ways to improve their own personal performance. The people who surround you have the best insight into ways you can improve. They may not always be forthcoming with offering you feedback; in these situations, invite it. When you receive feedback, say “thank you” because your teammates just gave you an invaluable gift.
- Demonstrate Confidence. Teams that “believe they can” do amazing things. Confidence is a common, shared emotion in a high-performing team. It’s the recognition that when faced with a challenge you’ll persevere. Confidence can be built in many ways; a simple, yet highly effective, way to build confidence consistently is to pay attention to the words you tell yourself when you feel uncertain. When stressed, remind yourself you’ve faced and overcome challenges before … this time should be no different. The late, great Henry Ford had a saying – If you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.
- Don’t Motivate through Misery. Every team will face disappointment or experience a setback. When tough times emerge, don’t remind everyone that things are bad “and we’re all in this together.” Sure, acknowledge challenge – there’s no need to shine up an unpleasant situation. Focus, though, on reminding people about how everyone can see themselves through this challenging period. So, don’t motivate through misery – share a vision that helps inspire others to take action that will lead them towards a better tomorrow.
- Take Care of the Team. In the best teams, teammates have got each other’s back. Just like you don’t let anyone talk bad about your family, don’t let anyone disparage your team. Take care of the people around you by ensuring that your comments reflect your colleagues in the best light. And, if you get a sense that gossip is emerging, be sure to police it and stop it when necessary.
- Commit to Your Development. There’s always something to learn. A strong team is composed of individuals who are insanely curious about ways they can elevate their performance – they’re open-minded to the opinions of others and have a strong desire to find new ways of working to achieve success more efficiently.
Reminder: you can transform a group of individuals into a team by simply practicing leadership skills. Small actions taken today can produce amazing results for you and those around you.
More Ways to Build Your Leadership Qualities
For further exploration on how to grow your leadership qualities and contribute to a high-performing team, see more articles from the SPARK blog. This 100% FREE resource shares with you highlights from the New York Times Best-Selling business book SPARK: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success. As you explore the site, you’ll see videos, free downloads, and a host of resources all designed to support you in becoming the best leader you can be.