4 Principles to Effective Team Leadership

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The need to effectively manage others is becoming an increasingly important skill, particularly if you’re an entrepreneur.

 In that vein, here are four principles to effective team leadership:

1. Keep Learning

Leadership isn’t something you are born with, it’s a skill that you can learn.

In life, as well as business, we could all do with evolving in the sense of continuously growing rather than resting on our laurels and plateauing once reaching a particular position; and this is particularly true for business owners.

The mistake many leaders make is they do indeed rest on their laurels once reaching a particular level and this is where arrogance can creep in.  The truth is, unless you’re open to evolving and expanding your knowledge then your knowledge and approach might quickly become outdated.

2. Be The Captain

Of course, there’s a fine line between being a leader and that of a dictator, but it’s an important quality for budding entrepreneurs to possess, as it’s important you take the reins and steer your team in the right direction with enough assertiveness to ensure people listen.

That said, your assertiveness should be directional rather than dictatorial, as nobody likes being told what to do in the sense of having orders barked at them.

It can be a difficult balancing act, as on the one hand you don’t want to be so assertive people lose motivation and feel henpecked, yet it’s equally important people respect your requests and take the required action.

3. Don’t Micromanage

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It’s important you allow people to “own their task” in the sense that everybody values having the sense of autonomy and purpose with regard to their work. But similarly, you do need to provide enough direction and structure for your team to follow.

The challenge, if you start micromanaging, is that your team will quickly get fed up and deflated.

They will feel disempowered and disrespected in their ability to get the job done and it will come across as if you don’t value or trust their contribution to a task.

Indeed, micromanaging is one of the quickest ways to lose the support of your team.  

There are, of course, times when you do need to be on people’s back, such as in matters of continual absence. Yet there are automated time and attendance management systems that can take of the bulk of this.

Meaning you only need to interact with people on this front when issuing a warning or checking everything is okay.

4. Use Both The Carrot and The Stick

You’ll have probably heard of the metaphor about the carrot and the stick which describes the polar forces of motivation theory.  

The metaphor encourages you to think of a donkey that has a carrot dangled in front of him.

The donkey moves toward the carrot because he is moving toward the pleasure associated with the reward (i.e. pleasure).  

Then, on the other hand, the man leading the donkey might have a stick to whack the donkey (i.e. pain) and therefore as the donkey want to avoid the pain of being hit with the stick he keeps moving away.

In psychology, there are two broad types of people when it comes to motivation theory.  Those that are driven more toward the gain of pleasure and those that prioritize getting away from pain.  

Most people have a mixture of both types, but there is normally one predominant force that motivates a particular person.  

You can see this in personal relationships too, as often the person motivated toward pleasure will go to great lengths to surprise their partner. Whilst those motivated away from pain, will do ‘what they have to do’ in order to avoid the pain of arguments.

Get to know your team and see what motivates them to take action.

Is it the possibility of reward or is it the avoidance of emotional pain (i.e. stress, embarrassment, not feeling good enough)?

The key principle is to understand what motivates each team member and then frame your requests in a way that resonates with their predominant motivation (i.e. toward pleasure or away from pain).

You need to communicate in the same language as them.

The person that only cares about avoiding pain, for instance, will not be motivated by you promising all sorts of pleasure if they do something well.

 They will only be motivated by the avoidance of pain (such as being fired). Whilst the person seeking pleasure will potentially just leave, if you try motivating them with the ‘stick’ as all they care about is gaining pleasure.

And if that’s not on offer, meaning if there’s no reward for their good work, then they will not get their emotional needs met no matter how good a job they do.

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