Whether you’re a seasoned manager seeking to refine your skills or an aspiring leader eager to make a lasting impact, Solutions 21 is your go-to resource for mastering the art of leading teams. Through insightful strategies, practical tips, and real-world examples, we will delve into the core principles that define exceptional leadership. With the help of our strategies, you will be empowered to build cohesive teams, inspire excellence, and achieve remarkable results. Get ready to unlock the secrets of effective team leadership and embark on a path toward becoming an extraordinary leader.

What is Effective Team Leadership?

Effective team leadership will create results for your team and any other teams you manage

Going from being a team member to a team leader is a big step. John Maxwell calls this phenomenon a “leadershift.”
Why? Because it’s the inflection point where you have to make a drastic shift in your career. You cannot lead a team or other leaders in the same way you did as an individual contributor. Effective team leadership is about providing purpose, motivation, and direction to accomplish the goals of the organization.

Onboarding the Right Team Members

Effective team leadership begins with your newest employees

When you find the right talent, you must have a deliberate and effective onboarding program. The purpose of onboarding programs is to integrate new employees into the culture and norms of an organization quickly and effectively. Consider the alternative points made by Lorman, a leading provider of online training and continuing education for professionals and organizations. Their research showed:
Organizations with poor onboarding processes are twice as likely to experience employee turnover.
70% of employees would leave their current job to work for an organization known for investing in employee development and learning.

Onboarding is not only an HR department functiSolutions 21 70% of employees graphicon. Onboarding should be a leadership function that is developed, led by, and implemented by leaders. Consider how your organization might implement an overall onboarding program that provides an overview of the entire company. Leave room for different departments to go into greater detail about their responsibilities. That way, new employees get a holistic understanding of how your company works. After an effective onboarding program, your new employees will be prepared to integrate into your effective teams.

Setting Expectations for Your Team

Getting the best results starts with setting team expectations

Setting expectations early and often is the key to your team’s success. I have found one of the most effective methods to use in communicating expectations is the One-on-One (O3) process. This is where you—as a team leader—can sit down with each direct report and clearly communicate your vision, expectations, and performance feedback. Be clear and concise about your expectations, check for understanding, and ensure your expectations are realistic.

What are the Three Key Aspects of Great Leadership?

Now that you know more about setting expectations, let’s learn more about how you can lead your team members effectively

In my 30 years of leadership experience, I have come to discover the best leaders are well-rounded. Not from a skills perspective but based on how they see things and how they support the overall organization. The best leaders are the ones who can lead up, across, and down. Let’s explore how these leadership methods are applied across organizations.

Lead Up

“Leading up” refers to the taking on responsibilities from the person above you to better serve your team as a whole. It’s about helping take as many things off your boss’s plate as possible. It will require a servant’s heart and genuine willingness to help and support. “Leading up” begins with understanding your boss’s leadership and personality style. Is your boss direct, relational, detail-oriented, or conscientious? A great way to find out is to ask your boss if they’ve taken any personality assessment and share it with you. Then, you can use the personality assessment to discover their motivations and fears. From there, you can brainstorm ways to fill their gaps with your strengths.

Lead Across

“Leading across”s is about supporting your peers and being a great team player. This requires you to search for areas where you might be needed and take these opportunities and be a great team player.
Provide quality work that your colleagues require for group projects, enable dialogue in planning sessions, and recommend options that will lead to feasible solutions. The essential part of “leading across” is to be the go-to person your peers can count on. Your work and support will be seen as excellence, and others will want you to be part of their team because of the quality of your work and your continued support.

Lead Down

“Leading down” requires time and effort from your team. The saying goes, “If you wanted shade, you should have planted a tree 20 years ago.” The same applies to leading down—it’s about leadership development. How are you engaging with your subordinates on a daily, weekly, and quarterly basis? How are you supporting and helping them achieve their future hopes and dreams, even if it means losing them? How are you developing and retaining your top talent?
These are the important questions you need to be asking yourself when it comes to “leading down.” As you continuously check in with your team member, you will be instilling your company values and work ethic. In the future, you will have developed leaders. Why? Because they learned from the best—you!

Developing Leaders Within Your Team

Effective team leadership is essential for your team’s future success

After an employee has been with a company for several years, their leaders must assess their potential for future leadership positions and advancement. You might ask, what’s the difference between training and development? In my 30+ years of leadership experience, I have come to the conclusion that training is for your current role and development is for a future role.
With that in mind, what developmental opportunities does your organization offer current or potential leaders? What outside experts might you need to partner with to assist you in the development of your next generation of leaders? Consider that 56% of human resources managers consider training and development essential to business and 67% of Gen X leaders want more external coaching and 57% want external development.

Solutions 21 56 percent of employees graphic

Your success as an effective leader won’t be measured until you have left the organization. Ensuring your team thrives long after you depart requires the development of future leaders within your team. At Solutions 21, we have studied World Class Performers and know that future leaders must develop a clear personal Vision and a Measurable Action Plan (MAP) for their development. This MAP should include a five-year visualization, core values, personal SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) Goals that will get them to achieve their five-year visualization.

How Do Great Leaders Manage Team Conflict?

When you share trust with your team members, you will be able to identify & resolve conflicts with ease

The key to any productive conflict is TRUST! With trust in your team members, you can have candid conversations, be vulnerable, and deal with issues before they become critical. Another aspect is keeping your finger on the pulse of the organization. How often are you “walking slowly” through the halls? How well are your ears fine-tuned to pick up on conflict and issues that need your attention? What are the criteria for you to have to get involved in conflict resolution versus enabling your direct reports to handle the conflict at the lowest level? Once you have established your criteria, you can apply it to future conflicts.

What Does An Effective Team Look Like?

Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you are exhibiting effective team leadership

How do you know if you have an effective team? Begin with the end in mind and consider the following:

  • What vision do you have for the team? Your vision should answer the question, “Why do we exist?”
  • What are your team values? Your values answer the question, “How will we behave?”
  • What will your mission be? Your mission answers the question, “What will we do?”
  • What norms and processes must be in place so that you achieve the vision and accomplish your mission with your values in mind?

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, you can evaluate whether or not your team is effective. An effective team has a vision for the company, strong values, and a clear mission for the future.

How The Solutions 21 Process Teaches Effective Team Leadership

With help from the experts at Solutions 21, you can improve your leadership style and develop your team with those same principles

effective team leadership in action

Next Leader Now is our flagship course that enables leaders to lead themselves and their teams in an elite manner. This process is unlike any other available development opportunity, providing a learning framework that is consistently reinforced using tools derived from the latest in research. Known as the Applied Ideas Framework, we combine this research with our decades of experience to give you a holistic development platform on which you define your path to growth.

Performance Feedback

Assessments of behavioral style, emotional intelligence, leadership competencies and skills, and conflict responses provide crucial feedback that makes you aware of unconscious tendencies and gives you the ability to turn them into conscious, positive choices.

Workshop Series

In a richly interactive learning environment, you will work together with other high-potential peer mentors to learn concepts, develop a common language, identify professional challenges, and generate solutions that you can implement in your day-to-day.

One-on-One Coaching

With access to a Solutions 21 Certified Coach, you will work directly with an experienced practitioner who will guide your learning experience, hold you accountable, and serve as a resource to put these practical management lessons into action.

Peer Engagement

Working alongside a network of other Next Leader Now candidates and alumni, you will be able to leverage others’ experiences to identify and overcome professional challenges in person and online through workshops, networking events, and mobile-enabled tools.

Continuous Reinforcement

We keep workshop content top-of-mind through access to weekly Muscle Memory Builder emails, eLearning tools, and peer interaction that provide you with consistent opportunities to build muscle memory habits.

Personal Strategic Plan

Adapted from our successful business strategic planning process, you will establish long-term expectations, conduct an individual strategic analysis, identify your goals, develop an action plan, and celebrate successes in your personal and professional life.

Dan Sullivan, Strategic Coach and Co-Author of the book “Who Not How” states, “It can be easy to focus on How, especially for high achievers who want to control what they can control, which is themselves. It takes vulnerability and trust to expand your efforts and build a winning team. Your attention and energy should not be spread thin but purposefully directed where you can experience extreme flow and creativity.” Where is your attention directed? What can you be doing to lead effective teams? If you aren’t sure, the process outlined above can get you started.

If you are in need of techniques to develop future leaders on your team, explore Solutions 21’s flagship program Next Leader Now. Next Leader Now is a comprehensive course that is designed to build better leadership qualities in all participants. For more information, contact Solutions 21 today!