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5 Leadership Skills Entrepreneurs Need to Lead a Growing Team

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Engage and inspire your team by honing your leadership skills in these areas. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.

“Why can’t they just do what I want?” a COO at a thriving nonprofit once asked me. He and the CEO had a clear strategy, well-defined KPIs, and a solid operational plan. Leading the team was the disconnect.

If you’re a leader, ask yourself this honest question: Have you taken the time to develop your leadership skills just as you do your strategy? 

Research shows that leadership development is a driving factor in organizational growth: Dr. Christina Lacerenza reports a 25% increase in positive organizational outcomes as a result of leadership training in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Leadership is also the driving factor in team engagement.

Put simply, as your team grows they need additional things from your leadership. Company milestones, KPIs/OKRs, and budget targets are important.  But your soft skills and commitment to ongoing leadership development might be even more important. Why? They shape your company culture and impact your team – and your business outcomes – a lot more than you’d think.

Master These Leadership Skills to Lead Your Team to Success

Develop Self-Awareness

As a leader, you set the tone for your team. Your approach, behavior, and way of resolving conflict shapes how your team approaches work and interactions. 

Look inward to understand your shortcomings and strengths, and ask someone you trust to show you where your blind spots are. You’ll gain insight that will help you better address issues before they impact your team. 

Managing expectations, approaching challenges with curiosity instead of judgment, and conducting yourself in alignment with your values are all signs of a self-aware leader with a high EQ.

Practice Clear Communication

Team success starts with a clear understanding of what success is and isn’t – and what’s expected of the team to get there. This won’t happen on it’s own – you create this clarity for your team by communicating purpose, defining responsibilities, and establishing an open line of communication with you.

With your team, prioritize communicating:

  • Your company’s mission and vision
  • Your business goals and priorities 
  • Who’s responsible for the work
  • How success is measured individually, as a team and as a business

Want to go deeper on this communication issue? Check out The 4 Common Communication and Delegation Mistakes That Sink Startups for practical tips and real-world examples.

Foster Collaboration and Team Achievement

A disjointed team will struggle to work together, meet goals, and collectively win. Make sure your team is aligned by paying attention to workload distribution and having the right people in the right roles. Team members can easily get overwhelmed when they have too much on their plates or are not set up to succeed.

Provide the opportunity and incentives for team members to collaborate. And motivate your team to do their best by celebrating milestones and sharing how individuals contribute to the team’s success. 

Teamwork really does make the dream work when team members take ownership of their work and share accountability for the outcome.

Build Your Delegation Muscle

Part of leadership is making sure you have the right people on board. But it doesn’t stop there: once you have them on board, learn how to delegate to them effectively.

Delegating a task, such as graphics creation, is very different from delegating decision-making, e.g deciding what your customer strategy should be. To effectively delegate tasks, you need to clearly define a successful outcome. Using the graphic creations example, a successful outcome would be defined as creating error-free graphics on deadline that communicate within brand standards. Most importantly, once you’ve delegated a task or the authority to make decisions, get out of the way and let your people own their roles.

Giving your team members ownership of their roles allows them to develop their individual skills and helps you meet business goals beyond what you could do alone. Learn how encouraging ownership drives employee motivation. And commit to supporting your people when they need it, including giving them the freedom to make mistakes.

Ask for Feedback From Your Team

Hearing feedback from your team is one of the best ways for you to improve your leadership skills. It may not feel comfortable, but it will be valuable.

As a leader, it’s up to you to make team members feel secure in offering honest feedback. You’ll gain critical insight as you listen and learn from their experience being led by you.

Not sure how to do this? These questions will help.

An Effective Leader Grows with Their Team

As a leader, you owe it to your team to bring your best self to work. As someone with a big vision, you owe it yourself to keep growing. 

Yes, you’ll need to adapt to challenges as they arise, learn from your shortcomings, and potentially fail in the process. That’s not a bad thing: it humanizes you and even makes your team comfortable connecting with you.

Do you have additional insights or tips on leading a growing team? I’d love to hear them. Reply to this post with your thoughts.

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