To be an effective team leader, you need to cultivate certain behaviors that encourage your team to communicate better and work together more productively, such as being welcoming, active listening, and showing empathy. While it’s easy to get caught up in the hectic day-to-day of your work and lose sight of these behaviors, there are several ways you can improve them with practice and preparation. These eight behaviors will boost team performance if you are able to incorporate them into your leadership style and encourage the same actions from your team members.
1) Be willing to listen
Effective team leaders are able to listen to their employees and understand how they work. Instead of trying to change what they’re doing, find ways to support their strengths and let them know that you appreciate all that they do. This can go a long way in improving productivity and boosting team performance overall. Without great communication, teams will never reach their potential; you need all of your players to trust one another if you want your efforts to pay off.
2) Engage in Positive Self-Disclosure
Positive self-disclosure is a powerful way to boost team performance. It happens when someone shares his or her own mistakes, fears, and weaknesses. Research suggests that sharing these kinds of personal insights can lead to a psychological state known as elevation— a form of positive emotion—and in turn improve how well people work together. To create an effective team, use positive self-disclosure with your co-workers: share something about yourself during a meeting that brings others up rather than down. As long as you share what you consider to be good news (your strengths and your success), it should be no problem to bring others along with you on your journey toward success.
3) Set Clear Objectives
Objectives can boost team performance, but only if they are clear. One way to accomplish that clarity is to use SMART objectives: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. For example, a goal of increasing team morale is not a SMART objective. If you break it down into what team members want—an increase in collaborative relationships—you have a better shot at making your goal attainable because there are various ways to create those relationships. Set clear objectives and make sure they are SMART so your team will work toward them effectively and efficiently.
4) Learn From Mistakes
This isn’t always easy to do. Often, we will either forget that we made a mistake or become so overwhelmed by it that we allow it to snowball into something even more damaging. It’s important to recognize mistakes and take steps towards correcting them as soon as possible; sometimes it may mean having a frank conversation with someone else on your team who is responsible for an area you’re struggling with. An effective team leader recognizes that good learning can come from mistakes and treats them as opportunities for growth.
5) Admit When You’re Wrong
It might sound obvious, but teams perform better when team members keep their promises. Think about it: If one member of your team promises to have something done by a certain time, and you trust that they will deliver on their promise, you’re more likely to take action that helps them succeed—you’ll stay late if they need you, or share relevant information in a timely manner. The reverse is also true: If someone promises to do something and doesn’t follow through (or forgets), then everyone else will wait around for that person before doing anything themselves—and, even worse, lose faith in future commitments from other team members. So make sure your word is good—and make sure it counts by following through on commitments yourself.
6) Show Interest in Others
The more time you spend talking, listening and connecting with others, especially your team members, the better you’ll be able to assess how they feel and what they need to succeed. When it comes to interpersonal communication skills, ask a lot of questions. What matters is that your team knows that you care about them as individuals. This will help them feel more valued, appreciated and motivated in their work. And remember: effective teams start with effective leaders. Lead by example by caring about your team members on a personal level and treating everyone fairly. Be empathetic—it’s one of those behaviors that has a ripple effect on everyone around you!
7) Give Credit Where It’s Due
Be generous with praise and recognition for a job well done. The research is pretty clear: there’s a direct correlation between positive feedback and employee performance. People are motivated by more than just money and if you can build up your team’s self-esteem, they’ll be more invested in helping to boost your business to success. According to Harvard Business Review, high performers say they find meaning through work, rather than happiness or money. You want happy employees? Give them something meaningful to do and regularly acknowledge their efforts.
8) Follow Through on Commitments
Sticking to commitments is a great way to set yourself up as an effective team leader. People are more likely to trust you if they know that they can count on you, and your word carries a lot of weight with them. Building trust with your team will allow them to be honest with you in their feedback, something that allows you to make smart decisions when it comes time for changes or adjustments. On top of all that, one study found people who made it a habit of keeping their promises were happier than those who didn’t.
Your behaviors are a powerful factor in determining how you and your team work together. So if you’re trying to boost team performance, it makes sense to first look at your personal behaviors and self-improvement strategies. For example, is there something you do (or not do) that prevents others from performing well? Do people need help improving their interpersonal communication skills? Are there specific activities or time constraints that are holding your team back? Being honest with yourself about what your team needs can help improve teamwork and result in higher productivity and higher quality outcomes overall.