In order to get the most out of your team, you’ve got to know how to rally everyone behind you.
Every great team needs a leader who can get high-level work done independently — that’s you, right? But when the success of a large project is at stake, everyone needs to pull their weight.
While your team should have their own motivations, you won’t get the absolute best out of them without compelling them to go above and beyond what might typically be expected.
The most effective way to level-up your team’s performance is by becoming a truly inspiring leader — which is as simple as putting a few techniques into practice and following the guidance of some key experts.
1. Learn from the best
Rest easy. You’re not the first leader in history. You can study the techniques and qualities of leaders who have inspired you in the past, whether they’re politicians, historical figures, teachers or even your own family members. Business speakers, keynote speakers, and professional leadership speakers can bring an expert perspective to the challenges running a team brings – listening to their messages can bring a new level of leadership savvy.
You might even consider finding a speakers’ bureau to hire a professional speaker to address your whole team, so that everyone can benefit from your self-improvement efforts. Speakers such as Mike Abrashoff, Tom Flick, Thomas Kolditz or Douglas Conant have the deep leadership experience to push team members to the next level of success.
After you and your team learn from the best, you’ll be ready to put it all together into your new super leadership strategy. Get on the path, forge ahead, and your newly inspired team will follow you to new heights.
2. Establish your leadership persona
In order to become an inspiring leader, you first need to build develop your well-defined professional persona. While you shouldn’t try to make yourself someone you’re not, you should be trying to embrace the best parts of your personality as it relates to leadership, emphasizing why you’ve been elevated into a leadership position in the first place.
While interacting with your team, you need to be available and approachable — but make it very clear that all important decisions are ultimately your call. Listen to the ideas of your workers and conduct business in a collaborative manner, fielding their ideas and concerns and applying them where appropriate, but ultimately maintain the leadership hierarchy and pass authoritative judgments decisively.
That said, don’t gum up the work process by requiring final say on every little thing — micromanaging leaders kill team morale, productivity, and cohesion. Lead by example, with a fierce work ethic to your own responsibilities and a clear passion for the work, and your team will follow suit.
3. Cultivate team players
As the leader, you set the working expectations for each individual member of the team. Be sure to do so in a way that puts everyone in the best position to succeed. Be sure that each person’s role is clearly defined within the larger hierarchy, with established work responsibilities and goals for individual, group, and team success.
Make collaboration an essential part of the work process — that’s why you’re working together as a group, after all. Track individual development within the context of the goal, and give responsibilities and freedoms to your workers where and when appropriate.
4. Read top leadership books
Airport bookstores are littered with hundreds of leadership books. These are top picks we highly recommend to our client’s:
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
- It’s Your Ship by Mike Abrashoff
- In Extremis Leadership by Thomas Kolditz
- Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner
5. Respect and value your team
It’s important to remember that your team members have identities outside of the job. Getting to know them and their wants and needs as people — while maintaining the appropriate level of professional decorum, of course — is essential for motivating them.
After all, if you can understand everything that might motivate them to give you their best efforts, you can find the best ways to provide inspiring leadership. Making sure that each employee is paid what they’re worth is a first step, and providing a work environment that is friendly and welcoming to all will also keep them happy to come work for you day after day.
Going further, being a friend to your team members will help to build an extra layer of trust — if your team feels like they can trust you on a personal level, they’ll trust you exponentially more professionally.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Ken Sterling is the Chief Marketing Officer at BigSpeak Speakers’ bureau – the leading keynote and business speakers bureau in the world. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California and an MBA from Babson College. Ken teaches Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Strategy at UC Santa Barbara. He is a serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker, business consultant and sales and marketing expert. Connect with @bigspeak on Twitter.