One of the hardest job to handle is that of a team leader. This is because team leader mediates between upper management and regular employees. Team leaders have the responsibility to manage and look after team mebers, while at the same time they also need to make sure that the tasks given to them are properly addressed.
Handling teams requires the team leaders to be equipped with a set of soft skills that will not only win employees respect and admiration, but will also make sure they reach the targets and keep team’s performance solid.
What are the soft skills that a team leader need? While there are quite a number of them, we will focus on few important ones here in this article. Starting with these should help a team leader build a strong foundation that will keep the team motivated and productive.
Why You Need Soft Skills
Soft skills are important in your role as a team leader. This is because you spend a large portion of your time managing people - not just a set of books or a computer. Your effectiveness is dependent on the way you build strong working relationships with your team members. If you realize that you do not possess certain soft skills yet, there is still time for you to develop these. Gaining awareness of which areas you need to work on and exerting an effort to improve will have a significant impact on you and your team.
The Most Important Soft Skills for Team Leaders
As mentioned earlier, there are many soft skills that an individual, if willing and determined enough, can acquire. However, we will only focus on the essential ones that every team leader should have. These are: respect, ethics, teamwork skills, and integrity.
From a business point of view, respect is about valuing other people’s ideas and opinions. This is something that you, as the team leader, must have so that your members would also treat you the same way, and would remain loyal to you. How do you show respect? This can be shown in the little things such as saying “thank you” to an employee who contributed something to the team, like completing a project early or not being tardy for the whole month. Learn to appreciate them. Another way to show respect is to create an open atmosphere where everyone can speak up and voice out their ideas and opinions. This strengthens communication between you and your team.
A good work ethic should be exemplified by every team leader. You are perceived as a role model, and if you are not doing a good job at it then you should not expect your people to be any better. A good work ethic equates to hard work and diligence; it is about being reliable, professional, and trustworthy. You can show this by being in the office on time, not going on extended breaks, and keeping yourself busy with assigned tasks.
Teamwork skills are deemed very important in the effectiveness of your role as a team leader. You have to encourage collaboration among your members instead of being competitive. Working together is a lot better than working against each other, and who would be the best person to show an example of this than you? As a team leader, it does not mean you can just boss everyone around otherwise you would be going against one of the most essential soft skills which is respect. You need to build a good relationship with your members by being there to listen and support them. Never gossip and keep your disposition friendly, although at a professional level. Share your ideas and knowledge with others, and be accountable for the team’s performance, good or bad.
Integrity, according to insurance tycoon, W. Clement Stone, is “doing the right thing even if no one is watching.” You can show this by walking your talk, spending your hours at work productively, avoid doing anything that equates to stealing, and being honest. If you expect these things from your team members, then you need to begin with yourself. Show integrity and the others will follow.
The Leadership Role
We have mentioned the four important soft skills needed by team leaders which are: respect, good work ethic, teamwork, and integrity. These skills should all be evident in your leadership role. You need to understand that your job, as the leader, plays a major part in ensuring the success of your team. In the same way, you could also be responsible for your team’s failure.
Show enthusiasm, support, and commitment to your team. Inspire them by being a good example, and they will walk in the same path as you. Unite your team, promote teamwork, and keep them focused on a common goal, and lead by example.