Jack Welch stated that “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
Leadership, like most things in life, is an acquired skill that can be learned and developed over a period of time. In Good to Great, Jim Collins writes that the journey to greatness begins with the right leadership. He calls it "Level 5 Leadership" and lists certain qualities of leaders in the different levels.
Here are 10 Essential Qualities of a Team Leader:
Plato once said, “The most important qualification for a leader is not wanting to be a leader.” A person who desires to be a leader may desire so for the fame, recognition, wealth, and praise he or she expects to gain. However, at every crossroad, they will have to choose between company objectives and personal growth aspirations. The best leaders are the most unexpected. Take for example Darwin E. Smith, the in-house lawyer at Kimberly Clark. He was not the typical smart and sharp Fortune 500 CEO; he was humble and more comfortable around electricians and plumbers than the rest of his suited-booted team. But from 1971 to 1991, when he was CEO, Smith took Kimberly Clark from $5.30 a share to $39.87!
Matshona Dhliwayo states: "Unleash the potential that is in another and you unleash the potential that is in you". When you’re leading a team, the task of motivating and inspiring everyone lies on your shoulders. Success is being able to light a fire in your team, just like the one you have burning inside you!
Oprah Winfrey stated that “Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives”. Leaders should never forget that they are human and so are their teams. They need to build considerate professional relationships and need to empathetically connect with their team.
Watch a Zig Ziglar talk on YouTube, and you’ll notice immediately that he always starts with a joke. Why? Because after cracking a joke, he has the audience eating out of his hand! The same goes for leaders in organisations. Leaders with humour find it much easier to build stronger cultures. They push their teams to be more creative and critical in their approach. And negotiating better deals becomes a fun task for them. Plus, humour can help teams stay calm and not lose their mind during tough times.
A leader has to deliver results. Intelligence, market awareness, and an understanding of one’s competitors are therefore very essential qualities of a team leader. According to Sun Tzu, “If leaders are to succeed, their competence must permeate every aspect of their work.” There are 4 types of intelligence that a leader must develop: Wisdom Intelligence, Character Intelligence, Social Intelligence, and Spiritual Intelligence. Leaders face varied problems, often finding themselves at crossroads, and a decision taken by accessing all options with the help of these 4 types of intelligence takes the company closer to success.
There's nothing worse than a leader who takes credit for good work and blames others for mistakes. Jocko Willink, an American Navy SEAL officer, discusses in detail about who in a team should take responsibility. In Willink’s experience, problems get solved when teams take ownership. Leaders who take responsibility for their team's actions and results teach their team members to take ownership of their tasks. This way, all team members give in their best to achieve their objectives, and also learn how to work together.
Courageous leaders project confidence, lending credibility to their actions and decisions. Sun Tzu says that a leader must “mobilise his team to take advantage of opportunities”. This means that a leader needs to have the courage to lead his team towards success. You don’t always have to depend on an inspiring speech to motivate your team; James Bond often forgets his powers of persuasion and charges forward with such courage and confidence that people can’t help but follow his lead!
9. Empowerment and Succession Planning
Good leaders understand that they won’t be around forever. Therefore, they plan and train the team to take over after them; unlike Darth Vader. Vader was so obsessed with his goals that he left the Death Star without a trained successor. It was only a matter of time before the Empire collapsed! Therefore, to be a good team leader, encourage your team to expand their skill sets and hone their talents, mentor them, and then pick the right successors.
10. Good Communication Skills
Having open communication channels and engaging in healthy dialogue is key to identifying issues and devising solutions. Unfortunately, teams communicate based on how their leaders communicate with them. Most leaders believe that it is their responsibility to deliver solutions and answers, whereas the truth is, they just have to listen and empower their team to take over. Being a good communicator starts with being a great listener.
Remember, if you have the right attitude and work hard to develop the above mentioned qualities, you will be destined to lead your team to greatness.