9 non-obvious ways to lead a team

Most leadership advice never worked for me. It’s either too vague or too obvious:

So, what’s wrong with all the above?

Typical leadership advice separates managers from their team members. Imagine a general leading their soldiers from a safe remote location.

Instead, leaders who build killer teams and attract talent work shoulder-to-shoulder with their team members. They work from the trenches and play their part on the frontline.

But what does that look like? Consider this:

9 Non-Obvious Ways To Lead A Team That People Want To Join

1. Empty your cup

Forget about the scar tissue you still have from previous managers. Don’t let those experiences affect how you treat your team members, from how you coach them to how you advocate for their career growth.

2. Make hard decisions, so your team can focus

Avoid saying ‘yes’ to every cross-functional request and letting your team deal with the chaos. Instead, do the dirty work of saying ‘no’ when needed, so your team can focus and deliver business results.

3. Break down problems into smaller, actionable chunks

Saddling your team with a big, hairy problem with many goals and impossible timelines is a recipe for failure. Break down the problem into smaller wins organized from simple to complex or high-to-low impact.

4. Provide clear examples of success

Remove uncertainty around what success looks like. Develop example(s) of deliverables, so your team doesn’t have to read your mind. They’ll love the clarity and reward you with creative solutions that hit the mark.

5. Give real context

Don’t sugarcoat or ‘tow the company line’ when the going gets rough. Help your team understand the realities of the situation, no matter how ugly. They’ll reciprocate by rising to the occasion.

6. Respect their decisions

When a team member makes a decision, even if you disagree, give them a chance to see it through. Help them make it a success and allow them the opportunity to learn.

7. Create a safe space to fail

Let your team members take big swings and trust them to work hard to drive success. As their leader, work behind the scenes to manage expectations with select stakeholders in the unlikely case the wheels come off at showtime.

8. Create a feeling of winning

Perks, offsites, and awards are nice ways to drive employee engagement, but they don’t matter if your team loses momentum. Help your team end each week feeling like they made real progress toward a meaningful goal.

9. Make every team member a hot prospect for their next role

Proactively help every team member build their resume worthy of a bigger role in 2-3 years (or less), regardless of whether they stay or go. Then, watch them give you 110% every day.