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Management & Mindset

5 Essential Practices for Building Effective Leadership 

Traditional leadership development is broken. The leader’s role is to lead their team, yet, according to many CEOs, most leadership development doesn’t actually involve teams! In fact, we asked leaders why they don’t develop their teams, and over 35% said it was because they didn’t have a playbook. Instead, they felt compelled to outsource it to expensive consultants and ‘fun’ offsite events once or twice a year.

Everyone, whatever their level, deserves the opportunity to develop and understand their leadership style and work in an energizing team. That’s why, at Jyre, we’ve developed our own guide for improving team effectiveness.

The insights provided will help learning and development teams to structure impactful leadership training, that takes the employee perspective into account. Below, you’ll find an excerpt that walks you through the five main principles you need to understand to get started.

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Setting the stage for better leadership training

Teams are complex systems comprising individuals with their own unique skills, perspectives, desires, and ways of working. While leading any team has its fair share of ups and downs, new teams have the challenge of establishing a shared understanding of team goals, disciplines, different characters, and ways of working. 

There are five things it is important to know about leading a new team that can help lay the groundwork for effectiveness in the future. Even if you are an established team, checking you have these practices in place is a valuable exercise. For L&D professionals working on leadership training, these principles should be an integral part of course development. 

1. Personal self-awareness 

Enhancing your self-awareness provides a deeper understanding of why you are thinking and feeling in certain ways. It helps us to tune into how we lead and the effect it has on the team. Is your default reaction to jump to the rescue? To avoid issues? To find blame? Past experiences and belief systems may alter how you approach situations and tasks. As a leader (and team member), heightened self-awareness allows you to be more thoughtful about your actions and the effect that it has on others. Feedback from others on how they perceive you build on your self-knowledge to make you more aware of your behaviors, your strengths, and your blind spots. 

Related: These 5 Limiting Beliefs Are Holding You Back From Making Your Next Big Career Move

As a leader (and team member), heightened self-awareness allows you to be more thoughtful about your actions.

2. Constant improvement 

What would it look like if your team was high-performing and achieving its goals? Teams need to regularly review what needs to happen in order to improve their effectiveness. 

This could involve revising your processes, developing the teams’ skillset or improving ways of working and communicating between teams. The emphasis here is on constant improvement; placing importance on reflective and retrospective practices greatly helps with this. Another essential to constant improvement is giving and receiving regular relevant feedback. The greater the pace, complexity, or uncertainty your team faces, the more time you will need to devote to constant improvement. 

Related: 9 Tips to Create a Truly Effective Peer Feedback Loop

3. Shared aspirational goals 

Having a shared purpose is an essential part of what makes a group of people a team. This is about creating meaningful goals as a team that are clear and motivational, providing the much-needed clarity of vision for your new team. When teams possess a shared understanding of priorities, goals and tasks, you can expect greater motivation and performance. When setting goals, it often helps identify why it is significant and what solution it is creating. Regularly review and revisit your goals to check that they are still the right things to focus on and to bring renewed energy to the team. 

Related: Here’s the OKR Process We Created to Elevate Team Performance (+ a Free OKR Template)

Having a shared purpose is an essential part of what makes a group of people a team.

4. A believable pathway 

For team members to maintain team effectiveness, they need to buy into the route as well as the destination. Believable pathways are about turning your exciting vision into reality by creating a roadmap between where you are now and where you aspire to be. After your new team has an understanding of the team goals, it is now time to discuss how it is going to work in real life. Answering questions like ‘how will we know when this goal has been achieved?’ and ‘what will we do if we encounter (insert risk)?’ will help manage practicalities and instill confidence within the team. 

Believable pathways are about turning your exciting vision into reality by creating a roadmap between where you are now and where you aspire to be.

5. Play to each other's strengths 

Getting the best from each other involves tuning into each other strengths. In doing this, we appreciate the diversity in the team and make good use of the value each member brings. As a leader of a new team, encourage your team members to recognize each other's skills and pull others in on tasks that will suit their unique strengths. When a team pulls together around a shared purpose and seeks to play to the strengths of all team members, it increases team trust making support and constructive feedback more likely to form a part of your everyday practice. You’ll find that members feel accountable for each other’s success, making them far less a group of individuals but a high-performing team. 

Related: Your Approach to Leadership Training is Broken—Here’s How to Fix It

So, which area(s) do you think needs more attention in your team? Let us know in the comments!