Leading teams is never straight forward but when approached in the right way, effective leadership can contribute significantly to high performance environments.

So how can you as a team leader promote and support effective teamwork? Well, here are some of the absolute essentials.

Question team assumptions
Over confidence can arise when teams assume automatically that the ‘facts’ they are working off are 100% correct. Encourage team members to question their assumptions. To delve into the detail with curiosity to ensure that  apparent ‘facts’ are actually as they first seem. In considering alternative options, a world of opportunity is created for the team.

Clarify your values
It is essential that the team understands and agrees upon their shared values and purpose. These collective understandings guide both individual and collective behaviour. They form the bedrock on which good practice is built and assist the team in understanding what is or is not acceptable.

Challenge ideas
Create space for the team to reflect on their practice and challenge both existing and new ideas. In doing so, bad ideas can be discarded and others vigorously tested before being adopted and potentially improved upon. A little more time spent validating ideas will ultimately save large amounts of wasted time in the long run pursuing the wrong objectives.

Build trust and transparency
Encourage contributions from all team members. Team leaders should always act with integrity and take the time to explain the rationale for decisions that affect others. Micromanaging should be avoided by team leaders and others provided with the scope and support to find solutions themselves. Scapegoating and blaming others should be avoided at all costs, with errors viewed as learning opportunities not only for individuals but for the team as a whole.

Reward innovation and creativity
Innovation and creativity can come from any organisational level and from any team, so it is important to take the time and space for both individual and group work. Cross pollination of team members and cross departmental working can assist too in generating new ideas. Work environments should be as fun as possible with roles not too rigidly defined as this will stifle innovation.

Use the expertise on hand
Teams should be as diverse as possible with a variety of skill sets, experience and knowledge. Taking the time to get to know team members is essential for team leaders as a wealth of hidden expertise may be found. Where there are skill deficits revisit the recruitment process, look at cross departmental options or bring in external expertise as needed.

Have one to one conversations
Not everyone is comfortable speaking in a group, so providing the opportunity for one to one interaction too will ensure that everyone is heard. It also allows team members to reflect on earlier team discussions and then approach you as the team leader with further questions and ideas.

Simple is best
The leaner and more simple organisational structures, processes and systems are, then the faster decision making will be, the less opportunity for miscommunication and the more adaptable teams can be. Keep it simple!

Joe McDonald is a professional coach and trainer. With almost twenty years experience working at a senior management/director level he is passionate about enhancing performance in individuals, teams and organisations.  Providing impactful workshops on leadership development, team performance and innovation.  One to one confidential coaching and flexible online courses.  Email info@create10.ie and see www.create10.ie for further details.