How your leadership skills improve the performance of the whole team

What impact do your leadership skills have on the performance of your team? In leadership, how you speak, how you act, and the decisions you make can have a direct effect on your employees, in positive and negative ways. In this podcast, we’ll be looking at the leadership skills to develop for high-performing teams and the leadership behaviours you need to leave behind. 

Hi, I’m Nicola Richardson from The People Mentor and in today’s episode of the podcast, I’d like to talk about how your leadership skills improve the performance of the whole team. 

In leadership, how you speak, how you act, and the decisions you make can have a direct effect on your employees, in positive and negative ways. 

While good leadership skills can improve your ability to influence action and improve performance on your team, poor leadership skills can do the opposite. 

So, what effect do good leadership and good leadership skills have on teams?

Firstly, I would say that if you hone positive leadership skills like honesty and integrity, they can trickle down from you to your team. 

Never forget that team members, especially new ones, will learn by watching you, so always make sure that your actions reflect your values and that you’re leading by example. 

Secondly, good leadership equals better morale in your team. Poor morale can often be traced back to poor managers. You know the saying, ‘People don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.’

I’m sure it won’t take you long to think of a manager you’ve known who fits the bill—it didn’t take me long at all! 

Poor leadership can cause apathy, resentment, and conflict in teams which ultimately results in lower productivity. On the other hand, demonstrating good leadership skills, like showing people they can approach you with problems or making people feel valued, can really improve morale and productivity in the team. 

Thirdly, great leadership builds trust. When you lead in a way that inspires trust, it results in better working relationships and a team where people want to work hard for you because they trust and respect you. Building trust can be done in all kinds of ways from being honest about difficult issues to being discreet when someone on the team shares something in confidence. 

Another way your leadership skills improve the performance of the whole team is by improving communication. If you keep your door open and have regular meetings and 121’s with team members, this creates a positive and supportive workplace where people feel like it’s okay to share. 

If you don’t make the effort to communicate well or your door is not always open, team members can feel uneasy and out of the loop. This can lead to misunderstandings and a lack of trust, as well as lower morale and motivation. 

Good leadership skills also get everyone pulling in the same direction, because they understand your goals and the business goals so much better. 

If you don’t share goals and objectives or you share them but in way that’s unclear, it can cause confusion and people won’t know what they are doing. 

But clearly communicating goals and objectives can create a sense of camaraderie, where team members can see how they fit into the bigger picture. 

Lastly, I think good leadership can really reduce some of the office politics that goes on in workplaces. If your team members see that you know their strengths and your view of them is based solely on their contribution to the team, there’ll be less conflict and more team work. 

So that’s what effects good leadership skills can have on teams, but what are the skills that improve team performance the most?

I think being able to define and communicate your vision is up there. If you know what drives you to do what you do everyday and you can share that with others and put it in action, it will really drive results. 

Next, I think knowing how to make people feel recognised, appreciated, and valued is a really important leadership skill. If team members feel this way, they’ll be engaged and committed to working hard. 

Remember that what gets rewarded gets repeated; people are more likely to perform well over time, even when things get tough, as long as you remember to recognise their good work. 

Another leadership skill I mention often is the ability to delegate and empower your team. When it comes to thinking about how your leadership skills improve the performance of the team, this skill has to be near the top of the list. 

Trusting your team members with more responsibility and giving them greater authority increases confidence and makes people feel valued. It also makes things run much more smoothly and it frees you up to focus on the important strategic things. 

Do your team come to you for every decision? Are they sitting on their hands waiting for approval for something from you once too often? This is a definite sign that you need to learn the art of delegation. 

If you’re not sure where to start, try this exercise. 

Imagine you’ve been given a special project which will mean that you’ll be away from the office for the next three months. The same amount of work still must be done, but you can’t hire anyone new. 

Think about what you would need to delegate and who you would delegate to. 

Even the best leaders can’t do everything on their own. You need to empower those on your team to give you the support you need. In time, this will benefit them and you because it will help them grow and give you some precious time back. 

Speaking of helping people grow, the best leaders are coaches too. Coaching is a worthwhile leadership skill to develop. Leaders who coach their teams don’t spoon-feed team members the answers to every problem and issue, they help them work through things. Encouraging people to think for themselves rather than telling them what to do will help them grow and develop. 

Coaching involves feedback, which brings me to the next leadership skill that will really drive your team forward: asking for feedback and input and then taking action. 

No leader knows it all, nor do they have to make every decision because they are ‘the boss.’ 

Asking for your team’s input gives you a different set of ideas, perspectives, and approaches to work with. It also makes team members feel valued and like a part of things when they are asked for their contributions. 

Asking for feedback and input is all well and good, but make sure you actually use it and give credit where it’s due for good ideas. 

Learning to let go and avoid micromanaging is also an important leadership skill that can help your team do better. Letting go can be scary, but the benefits you’ll get from developing and empowering your team definitely outweigh the negatives. 

If you are reluctant to let go, here are some tips. 

First, book check-ins to monitor progress without hovering over people. 

Secondly, make yourself available to provide advice and guidance if people need it. 

Lastly, it can be tempting to jump in and save the day when your team members run into a problem, but if you do, they won’t learn, grow, or feel accountable. Try to avoid rescuing your team and coach them to find a solution to problems instead. 

So we’ve looked at the good leadership skills that can improve team performance, but what about poor leadership behaviours and their impact on a team?

The reason I want to talk about negative behaviours is that it allows leaders to check themselves. 

Even if you think you’re a supportive and caring leader, being busy and under pressure can cause you to start acting in ways that negatively affect your team. 

Here are some of those negative behaviours you need to keep in check. 

The first is openly criticising or ridiculing people for the ideas they’ve contributed or the decisions they’ve made. If you want to encourage innovation and collaboration, this is not the way to do it; people need to feel that it’s safe to share. 

If team members are fearful of sharing ideas, they’ll just go along with you which will reduce the diversity of opinions or options you have to play with. 

The next negative behaviour is failing to involve your team. If you create a workplace where only your decision matters, people will become disengaged and they won’t feel valued. 

Would you want to create a situation where your team members just stop trying because they think there’s no point?

Another thing you should avoid is being autocratic. I’ve seen plenty of leaders who want to check that everything is done, exactly the way they think it should be done. 

Leaders can be like this for different reasons, from insecurity to a need to retain power and control. 

But in trying to hold all the power for yourself, your team become powerless. The lack of autonomy will affect motivation and you will effectively be creating a rod for your own back. 

If you give your team no autonomy, everything needs to be run past you. You become the single point of contact for everything. Yes, you may have control, but you also can’t offload the responsibility of the day-to-day busy work. 

These are the behaviours I’ve seen in countless teams I’ve worked in and it does create a very negative team culture. Lead like this and pretty soon you’ll start to see:

Signs of mental fatigue and stress- trying to convince a ‘my way or the highway’ boss that they aren’t right is stressful. 

Eventually, team members may get fed up and go along with you. However, this creates even more stress because now they are constantly having to go along with things that go against their values or what they believe will work. 

This can create groupthink where there’s no diversity of thought and people fail to contribute or question decisions out of fear and apathy. 

Never underestimate the negative effects of fear on a team. 

Fear of a manager can cause conflict and a culture of blame. 

Nobody wants to be in the position of getting on the wrong side of the manager, so they blame each other when things go wrong. 

One thing fear does not do is motivate teams in a positive way. Fear will drive team members to do what’s necessary, but it won’t be the thing that encourages them to go the extra mile. 

It will be the thing that makes them burn out and lose motivation. 

It will be the thing that stops them from contributing ideas. 

It will be the thing that stops them growing and becoming the high-performing team you want them to be. 

Has today’s podcast got you thinking about your leadership skills and where there might be room for improvement?

Why not sign up for my Manager’s Academy membership?

I call it a ‘3-month roadmap to success’, where every month you get invaluable tips, online videos, training, and templates as well as weekly surgeries to talk about team issues, a monthly virtual training session, and access to an online community for support. 

I’ve spent over 33 years leading and managing teams, and when you sign up for this membership, you’ll get some invaluable information and knowledge, as well as the benefit of my experience. 

If you want to develop your leadership skills and get on the fast track to success, you can find out more about joining my great value membership and the amazing benefits that come with it here

That’s it for this episode of the Manager’s Academy podcast. I hope it’s given you some food for thought. 

See you next time. 

This is The People Mentor, signing off. 

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