Four observations on the best team leaders I know:

  1. The best team leaders I know are avid learners. They are growing all the time. When we lead people, we learn that there is much we do not about motivating people! It seems everyday brings a new challenge. Bookstores are filled with management and leadership materials, and the best leaders aren’t afraid to read them – they can’t wait. Leaders must be learners, or they will exhaust their ability to motivate and communicate in an ever-changing windstorm that is today’s workplace.
  2. The best team leaders I know keep an eye on what is working well to improve it. They aren’t simply obsessed with what is broke on the team. They constantly look to “tweak” what seems to be going well, and see if there is a way to make it better!
  3. The best team leaders I know have and communicate a very clear vision of what they expect from people. Ever since the days of the “One Minute Manager” I have been thinking of how to be clearer in every instruction I offer the people on the team. They need to know what I see as a success or “win” in their area. They need to see the overall project and its value. They need to connect their work with the big picture. Good team leaders communicate all of this, but do so in short and simple instructions and encouragements. Complicated thinking that produces complex communication confuses the vision for many on the team. Keeping it simple requires I know what I want before I begin sharing it with the team.
  4. The best team leaders I know are bold enough to put trust in people others may not choose, but careful enough to watch them closely. People want to be let out of the box and produce something new and significant if they are at all worth having on the team. They want to add value to the room. To be allowed to add a voice in the creative process excites the team member. It has dangers, but it also ferrets out the creative genius of our team.