What makes a great team leader?

“Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning.” ~ Warren Bennis
Leaders are dependent upon those whom they lead. The leader’s success will always be measured upon the performance of those they leads.
Leading a group of people and taking them to higher levels of performance is the leader most important calling. Many leaders today are evaluated on their leadership based on how their teams perform with the leader and sometimes in the absence of the leader.
Since the back-bone of leadership is based on the ability to effectively lead any group of persons toward the accomplishment of a single vision, goal, or objective, one of most powerful leadership traits is team leadership.
Team leaders are responsible for much more than simply making their followers feel supported, they also have an enormous impact, be it positive or negative, on the entire team and how it progressed towards its goals.
As leaders, How can we create a culture of team spirit in our organization?
Here are some encouraging insights to share with you and I always welcome your thoughts/suggestions as well.
Walk a mile in their shoes
Walking a mile in their shoes is to encourage a teammate to understand the other person’s own unique responsibilities, pressures, frustrations and aspirations for a better future. When you begin to understand by placing yourself in another person’s life, you make a genuine commitment to relate and empathize with their daily hopes and dreams.
Make an effort today to reach out and hear their pain. Walking a mile in their shoes also helps you as leader to be connected personally to the mission of the organization. Leading by example sets the tone when you walk through the crowd and share the team’s feedback.
Uplift their spirits
When leaders uplift their teams, people are encouraged to grow and contribute. They perform at a higher level, and they use more of their resources in a creative, innovative way. The motivating leader is a people builder who is focusing on strengths instead of weaknesses.  Anyone can focus on the negatives, but it takes a leader to bring the light to another person’s life and believe they can be a success.
Recognize the sacrifices they make
As leaders, we need to recognize the sacrifices people make to ignore their personal agendas and work toward the team’s goals. When people recognize the big prize as a team collective effort, we must appreciate them and let them know how much their team spirit makes a positive difference.
Remind them why their work is important
Take the time to share with your team the difference they make through their on-going dedication and commitment. It’s a wonderful opportunity to rally everyone on the vision and communicate help them visualize that they are part of a success story. More importantly, articulate why their story is better as they contribute with their hearts and soul.
Listen intently
Listen with your heart and intently focus on their needs. Great leaders are able to help mold a team synergy as they encourage each person to listen and connect in a meaningful way. We need to set time to meet with each person to engage and appreciate everyone’s perspective.
Share the Burdens
A good team leader will always step in and help to ease the stressful situations for those working under him/her by doing whatever he/she can to make the process easier and simpler for the team – even if that means that he/she must roll up his/her sleeves and jump into the trenches to help out with menial tasks.
Please share your feedback and suggestions to be a better team leader.

Leaders can inspire others by connecting to a story

“The ultimate impact of the leader depends most significantly on the particular story that he or she relates and the reception of the story on the part of the audience.”  Howard Gardner “Leading Minds”

The key to leadership as well as to following is the effective communication of a story. If you want to be an effective leader, you have to master the art of storytelling that inspires others to become part of a dream. 

Communicating stories to a group of people is a fundamental part of any leader tool box to move people into action. Ultimately, leaders achieve their vision through the stories they relate to others.

Many people want to know if their story (their life) is getting better with you. As a leader are you articulating and communicating a better future for your team, organization and even your family?

So why storytelling? Ever since humans first sat around the campfire, stories have been told to create emotional connections. That connection was very powerful as it communicated a call to action. It resonated with people to make a difference. In many societies, they have been passed along nearly unchanged for generations.

People enjoy following a leader who has survived personal challenges and can share their narrative of success or failure comfortably with any audience.
Leaders find it challenging to get their teams engaged and rally everyone to a big cause. But it boils down to how we communicate to inspire the vision. 

Great leaders found a way to articulate a narrative to keep the vision alive in the minds of their people. Leaders must keep sharpening their message to be persuasive enough to relate and connect.

Information is static; stories are dynamic—they help an audience visualize what you do or what you believe. Tell a story and people will be more engaged and receptive to the ideas you are communicating. 

Stories link one person’s heart to another. Values, beliefs, and norms become intertwined. When this happens, your idea can more readily manifest as reality in their minds.
Storytelling does not replace logical thinking. It supplements it by enabling us to imagine new perspectives and new possibilities and ideally create inspiration for change and innovation.

Stories provide continuity in our lives, conveying a sense of where we been and where we could be. Storytelling brings people together in a common perspective and stretches everyone’s capacity to empathize with others and share experience.

Leaders like Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln and Churchill knew the power of a good story. They even took it a step further-by involving communities of nations to improve their stories. As a leader, are you making other people’s story better?

The best leaders are teachers

“As a leader, you have to have a teachable point of view.” Jack Welch
The days of hoarding information for power are coming to an end. Leaders these days – the good ones, anyway – are teachers. 

The hallmark of great leaders and great companies is their ability share what they know and reproduce who they are.

When we think of people that impact our lives, we think of people who had the ability to teach and create an environment of growth. Leaders must initiate growth by becoming the teachers of today, because the leaders of tomorrow will be the ones who keep growing and developing others.

Our greatest threat is satisfaction. The failure to keep asking, “How can we improve?” can mislead you to take a comfortable route and leave you behind your competition.
Teaching is what separates great leaders from good ones. Let’s think about it, teaching should elevate your entire organization. 

The goal is to pass on what you know so that everyone can do more. It is the opposite of information hoarding. It is empowerment. It is the ’loop closing’ stage in the development cycle.

Leadership expert Noel Tichy has taught about leadership and teaching in major corporations.  Noel Tichy said, “A teachable point of view is your opinion on what it takes to lead other people. It’s essentially your approach to leadership.”

Here are some suggestions on how to become a leader/teacher:

First, ask yourself, what do you wish to convey about leadership? What have you learned? Spend time preparing your message, and most importantly, reflect upon key lessons you personally want to share, not borrowed from a book or someone else’s presentation.

Secondly, ask yourself, how do you want to deliveryour point of view to your audience? Some leaders prefer meetings. Some prefer one-on-one and others may prefer to share stories with their team. Depending on the message you wish to deliver, it can have the proper set up for your communication.

Finally, who is the audience to benefit from this message? Is it leaders at all levels? Peers or bosses? Just your direct reports and team? Give thought to who might be interested and who will benefit from your teachable point of view.

Creating your teachable point of view is a wonderful way to develop your team. For starters, it will sharpen your own story telling skills, because to “teach” something, you really have to know the content. But it’s much more than that – this really isn’t about you; it’s about your audience.Just think of how many people you can impact with your views on leadership. Develop your own point of view about what it takes to lead, and start sharing it in your organization.

six qualities of a leadership DNA

Leadership can be different from person to person depending on their leadership make up. Each one of us has a leadership DNA that consists of our experiences (leadership learning), attitudes (philosophies) and how we want to make a difference in the lives of others. (Relationships).

I thought about six universal leadership qualities that remain almost part of every leader personal development. 

Why development? Because every leader is on a journey to expand their leadership make up throughout their lifetime.
It’s a process that never stops as long as you are committed to relationships, big dreams and significance. 

If you are continuously working on your leadership DNA, you can always make an improvement.

So what are the six qualities of a leadership DNA?

Be committed to personal growth

As a leader you have to be the very best that you can be, because you can’t lead anybody if you can’t lead yourself. So you have to be honest with yourself about your good qualities, your bad qualities and the things you need to work on. 

Notice I mentioned the word committed. Many people get excited about starting to create a plan for growth, but only a few stick it out for the long run.

Make a daily commitment to your dreams and potential. Jim Rohn said, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

Be committed to other people’s growth

The true mark of a leader is how committed they are to the growth and development of their team. Peter Drucker once said, “There is no success without a successor.”  

If someone asks, “who made an impact on your leadership DNA?” you will probably think of someone that mentored and believed in your potential. I think the day you developed someone and they advanced their career is the day you need to celebrate the impact your leaderships has made on another person’s career.

Lead with your heart

Leading with the heart is difficult for many leaders. Some think it’s too soft and it comes across as the “nice guy finish last” attitude. It doesn’t mean that you don’t set expectations and standards. But if you lead with your heart, people figure out whether you’re genuine, whether you’re real.

Leading with your heart is what I call authentic leadership. You have to be authentic and genuine in your relationships with other people. Leading with the heart means you care about those relationship and you want to bring the best in others.

Trust the people you lead

This is another difficult quality that many leaders struggle with. It’s really about letting go, and allowing people to grow into leadership roles. At the end of the day, it’s O.K. if they make a mistake or if they fall down. Because as leaders, it’s your job to pick them back up.

Be part of something memorable

People want to be part of something memorable. People want to feel they are working toward a big dream. As a leader, you must have a relentless vision that has a story to tell. Great leaders want people to join them in their journey to make the vision a reality.

Serving the people you lead

It’s about putting the cause before yourself, and a willingness to see it through. It’s the way we live each day. My job is to lead and to make a difference. We have to be the catalysts for change, to create an environment where people can grow and prosper. It begins with a servant’s heart.