10 Tips For a Team Leader to Use At Work (With Top Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 1 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

In most organisations, team leaders are responsible for their team's success and can positively influence their work environment. If you're just starting or looking to improve in a leadership role, various tips can help you become more successful. By learning about the best practices of effective team leaders, you can improve your ability to direct and motivate teammates to reach a shared goal. In this article, we discuss 10 tips for a team leader and outline the important skills you can use in leadership roles.

10 tips for a team leader to use at work

Here are 10 tips for a team leader:

1. Lead by example

While it's important to instruct and guide your teammates, being accountable to the standards you expect is often more effective. For example, if you want to encourage a more positive attitude to problem-solving, you can start by showing this behaviour. This way, your team can learn from you and understand that your expectations are achievable. Similarly, suppose your goal is encouraging open communication among team members. You can start by communicating with your teammates and sharing your thoughts freely. Leading by example involves following the rules you develop and can help you earn more respect and trust at work.

2. Connect with your team

Getting to know your team is essential for creating a more positive work environment. It's important your teammates feel comfortable around you and can contact you if they need support or clarifications. To connect with your team, first establish and maintain professional, genuine relationships with your teammates. Aim to understand each individual's preferred work style, identify their potential strengths and weaknesses and discover their ambitions and inspirations. You can also check with them regularly to discuss their career progress. Learning more about your teammates shows you care about their goals and can motivate them to perform at higher productivity levels.

3. Set SMART team goals

Every successful team has definitive goals it plans to achieve. SMART stands for:

  • Specific: Describe the details of the goal you want teammates to reach. For example, a goal to improve customer retention by 25% is more specific than improve retention rate.

  • Measurable: Ensure you can track your team's progress towards the goals you set. A measurable goal is easy to divide into smaller milestones.

  • Achievable: Make your team goals realistic to reach within the required time. You also want to consider whether your team has the necessary resources and time.

  • Relevant: Ensure the goals are important to the team's short and long-term plans. Check that they also align with the company's goals.

  • Time-based: Create time limits for your team to reach the goal you set to ensure productivity.

4. Celebrate your team's success

When your team receives an award or achieves a milestone, you can reward team members or recognise their success. Doing this can show you appreciate their effort and commitment. For example, if certain team members meet their sales target for the quarter, you can write a note thanking them for their hard work or send a gift card. These gestures indicate that you value their work. It can also help them have a more positive attitude to work and encourage other team members to improve their performance.

5. Be available to provide support

Regardless of your preferred leadership style, it's important you show your team that you're available to help them with tasks. Becoming a better team leader requires you to make time to lead your team. Depending on the tasks you have regularly, try to schedule your work to ensure you have time to interact with your teammates and receive progress reports. For example, suppose you're responsible for setting goals for two teams and training new hires. You can organise your workday to facilitate training sessions in the morning and check with both teams before you finish for the day.

6. Be flexible

Flexibility is the ability to adjust to workplace changes that may occur. As a team leader, showing flexibility can help ensure your team reaches its goals. For example, suppose a team member is suddenly unavailable to work, you can temporarily assume their position or assign their duties to their colleagues. Similarly, if you notice your team may not meet project deadlines, you can arrange for freelancers or contractors to cover the remaining workload or recommend a more flexible work schedule. Flexibility also involves taking initiative and anticipating changes to respond adequately.

7. Become more decisive

Decisiveness is the ability to make good decisions consistently. Working as a team leader involves making important decisions for the team and taking action, following your evaluation of possible options. If you encounter a challenge that can impact the team significantly, you can make small and thoughtful decisions. For example, suppose you're promoting a team member. You can first determine the most productive team members in preparation for your final decision. Becoming more decisive can also involve seeking help whenever required and using counsel to make better decisions.

8. Delegate tasks effectively

Being a team leader requires you to assign tasks to team members, especially when working on large projects. Doing this helps to develop your team's ability to work independently. Here are the best practices for delegating tasks that you can use at work:

  • Establish expected project outcomes. Determine why delegating tasks is important and review overall project goals.

  • Evaluate your team's qualifications. Aim to delegate tasks based on your team's strengths. For example, if you notice a team member has excellent networking skills, you can ask them to cold-call customers.

  • Define time requirements. Determine important milestones and deadlines for each team member.

  • Monitor your team's progress. As you're still responsible for a project's success, track your team's progress and offer useful insights.

  • Reflect on a project's results. Compare the results from delegated tasks to a project's expectations.

Read more: 5 Important Roles and Responsibilities of a Team Leader

9. Encourage growth

As a team leader, ensure you provide opportunities for your team to advance in their field. Whether through training, practice or guidance, investing in their success can motivate them to continue in their position. For example, you can help your team improve their problem-solving skills by providing a challenging project and guiding them through it.

10. Learn from other leaders

Network with more experienced leaders to discover effective approaches for your industry and particular roles. For example, if you're leading a team of mid-level professionals, you may realise that a more casual leadership style is the most suitable, such as delegating many tasks and providing minimal supervision as your team members have well-developed skills and years of experience. Ensure you first develop a mutually beneficial relationship with leaders you want to learn from and consider getting a mentor or career coach.

What are the top skills of effective team leaders?

Here are the skills to succeed in your leadership position:

Communication

A strong leader clearly communicates team goals and feedback. Being an effective communicator involves listening actively, understanding body language and becoming more conscious of your tone. You also want to improve your written communication skills to ensure information clarity when instructing team members. Develop your communication skills by regularly requesting constructive criticism from individuals you interact with and acting on the feedback you receive.

Read more: What Is Communication? (And Its Importance in the Workplace)

Responsibility

As you leader, you're typically responsible for your team. Becoming more responsible involves showing accountability by acknowledging mistakes you may make and finding solutions. You can improve this skill by trying to understand the perspectives of your team members and completing tasks you planned.

Relationship building

As a team leader, your role involves fostering closer relationships within your team and encouraging collaboration. This can help make teammates trust each other and work better. Improve your ability to develop professional relationships by practising empathy and participating in activities that interest team members.

Related: 18 Good Leadership Qualities for Career Success

Honesty

Promote honest communication to encourage teammates to discuss with you if they experience issues or have concerns. Showing honesty can also help your team members feel more connected with you. Even if they feel differently about what you're discussing, they are likely to appreciate your opinion and your transparency.

Related: What Is Integrity? Definitions and Examples

Problem-solving

Successful leaders are good at solving problems that may occur at work. Effectively resolving issues typically requires you to stay calm and develop a solution in steps. You can improve your problem-solving skills by working on challenging personal projects in your free time and offering to solve workplace challenges.

Explore more articles