Being a team leader requires courage, humility, empathy, vision, passion and the ability to put together a dedicated, high-achieving team. You’ll need to bring together employees from diverse backgrounds, with the skill sets you need and the ability to integrate with each other to produce a body of work that is greater than the sum of its parts. If successful, your team will meet or exceed its goals, take the organization to new heights and make you as their leader look good. But if your team doesn’t work well together, achieving goals will be much harder, progress will be hindered and morale will suffer, leaving you scratching your head and wondering how you can turn things around.
To ensure your team is built to succeed, look to hire employees with the mindset and character to integrate well with the rest of the team. Potential hires can have great skills, but if they can’t work well with the others, they won’t be successful at their jobs. What makes the right mindset for a high-performing team?
- Flexibility. “We” not “I.” Look for people who will check their ego at the door and work toward team success, not personal glory. They should be prepared to roll up their sleeves and do whatever needs to be done.
- Open-mindedness. Leaders need to be willing to assume the best and embrace new ideas. Being an open-minded leader is critical for the team’s success and will allow team members to feel valued and heard.
- Diversity of skill sets. Everyone on the team needs to be savvy and stay up to date on the latest marketing tools and research. Marketing moves fast and the team needs to be ready.
- Passion for the organization’s mission. This is true for all organizations, but particularly in the non-profit sector. Team members need to be committed to the organization’s goals, and if they also work with boards of directors or volunteers, they will need the patience to manage different personalities and the enthusiasm to motivate volunteers.
Most important is the way you approach your own leadership. Remember that the role of a team leader is not to tell (or dictate!), but to provide direction and the resources to achieve goals. If you are a new leader of an established team, it will take a certain amount of time for team members to trust you. Start in the mindset of serving your team. Be honest about your weaknesses and focus on your own emotional intelligence – it’s your job to connect with team members by listening, asking questions and creating a partnership.
If you are joining a team that has been identified as low-performing and your task is to re-engineer it, involving your team members is essential. Talk to them to understand where the team is today and where it should go. Work together to develop a vision and seek their input on how the team could perform better in broad terms – ex: changing the structure, redefining positions, developing new workflows or processes. Take into account your marketing goals and think about what skills and processes are needed to make the team stronger and more efficient. When your teammates understand where they are and have a role in developing the team vision, they’ll be far more likely to buy into any changes. As their leader, you will see results from their increased morale and commitment to the organization’s mission.
Patricia Banks recently served as AMA Baltimore’s VP of Mentorship and Professional Development. She is the Director of Marketing, Communications and Member Services at the American Urological Association and has over 20 years of experience in team leadership.
**Photo of Patricia and her team at the American Urological Association at the 33rd Annual Marketing Excellence Awards.