At the age of 23, I was a Pit Boss at a local Tribal Casino in Northern California. I had no idea how to motivate staff or promote our poker room. I felt young and lacked confidence. I wish I knew then that I did have the skills. I may have been more confident.
Since then, I’ve learned by leading and watching others in management roles. I’ve taken the good and bad and formulated my own theories on leadership. As the Coordinator of Volunteers for a homeless shelter; I applied what I had learned over the years and used it to coordinate and manage volunteer staff.
10 Things I learned About How to Be a Team Leader
1. Act like an equal. If you ask a kid to tell another kid to do something, chances are, one kid will respond, “NO! You’re not the boss of me!” Grown people feel the same way but as we get older we learn to speak more maturely. Instinctively though, adults tend to take direction better when approached on an equal level.
2. Be honest. Honest feedback is the best way to teach someone. Be careful to choose words that are honest but not hurtful.
3. Open door policy. I worked in a cubicle for a period of time in my career-life. This was difficult to get used to at first. My direct boss was amazing at communicating with us as a team. Even though he had his own office; he also informed us that his door was always open. To me, this stood out because I had never had a boss before who allowed us to communicate so freely. Allowing your team members to approach you with problems, issues or concerns can give you an advantage to problem solving before anything major happens.
4. Motivate with praise. There’s a fine line, I know. Giving too much praise can be perceived as negative. I learned once that it’s important to start all communication with the positives first. By pointing out the things a person does right, you are more likely to get a better response to things that need to improve.
5. Recognize and Congratulate. This goes without saying. No one likes to accomplish something and then be glanced over. When a team member hits a milestone in a company, recognition and congratulations can go a long way in future production. An article from Forbes Magazine makes mention to using recognition as a way to inspire team members to accomplish more.
6. Set the pace. Just like parents, team leaders need to set the pace and example they want followed. Asking a person to do something is one thing; showing a person by example is another.
7. Self-Management. As the coordinator of volunteers for a local homeless shelter, I allowed each volunteer to self-manage themselves. They did not have someone hovering over them and they were able to make decisions (according to guidelines) that involved our homeless guests. This made them more independent and confident.
8. Create Loyalty. By allowing team members to work independently, you are also creating loyalty. When people feel they are contributing to a company and when they know their ideas matter; they are more productive and loyal.
9. Listen. Actively listen to the needs and wants of your staff. It’s critical to meet their needs (when appropriate) in order to assemble mutual respect.
10. Advocate for your team. As a leader it’s your job to make sure your team is being treated fairly and accordingly. Make sure to stand up for members who deserve more recognition or pay increases. This sort of management will produce more results on a whole.