How To Be A Great Team Leader

Written by Andrew Johnson - Wed 26th Aug 2020

One of the mistakes businesses make is to promote an employee due to their work but don’t recognise that they don’t have any leadership skills and then fail to offer them any relevant training. 

This is a recipe for disaster and will result in having a demotivated and unproductive team as well as a mentally drained leader. 

There are plenty of leadership experts out there to help with training and development. I know from experience the difference it can make to a business when they invest in their team but for now, I’d like to share my top tips on what makes a great team leader.


  • Listening and communication skills

Without either and both of these, failure is afoot. It’s not good enough to be able to talk at your team, you need to be able to communicate effectively and most importantly, be able to listen. And I mean, really listen. 


Your team will give you feedback and honest opinions if you let them. They are the ones on the frontline so they’re opinions should not be disregarded. 


Take the time to get to know your team members. One team is made up of many different personalities and each of them respond differently to the way you communicate. A great leader will be able to adapt their way of communicating to each individual personality. 


  • Give regular praise and recognition

This could simply be a ‘thank you’ at the end of the day but it’s important to recognise when a team member has worked hard or done a good job. 


You can incorporate it into regular 1-2-1’s, but don’t let it go too long. An employee needs to know they are doing well. We all need to be held accountable in some way and by providing regular positive feedback, you will promote a positive culture and have a team of loyal and dedicated staff. 


Show your appreciation, even when the heat is on and you have deadlines to hit. Remember that they are feeling the pressure too so don’t forget to let them know that you appreciate their efforts. 


  • Developing self confidence

It’s important to recognise the confidence levels of your team. Each will be different and as a team leader, it’s up to you to empower your employees and help them to develop their self-confidence.

If there is something they are struggling with, identify it and help them to work through it. The more confident your team, the greater the chance of a job well done. 


By having an open-door policy, you will encourage your team members to talk to you if there is something, they aren’t sure about or confident in. Once you’ve identified it, you can put a development plan in place to overcome it. 


If they can see their work improving and you combine it with regular praise, you will find a happy and confident workforce who are motivated and productive. 


  • Get good at handling poor performance

Things don’t always go to plan. Sometimes, an employee isn’t quite cutting it. Maybe they continuously miss deadlines, they’re unreliable, or their work isn’t up to scratch. It happens. But there’s a few things to bear in mind here;

1 – Is there a reason? Is there an area that needs to be developed? Do they need more training? Are they struggling due to personal reasons?

2 – Do they know that they are getting it wrong

3 -  Are they just a plodder?


There could be many reasons that a team member isn’t performing particularly well and the first thing you need to do is try to establish why. Once you’ve done this, you can move on to giving the feedback. 


Firstly, don’t let it fester. If someone isn’t performing particularly well and you wait months to tell them, it’s going to come as a big surprise. 

Have regular 1-2-1 meetings with all of your team members and encourage an open feedback culture. It’s for them as much as you. Make sure you start with a positive. Find something to praise them for and then discuss the issue at hand. End on a positive, even if that means putting a performance development or review in place. It will give them focus and motivate them to do better. 

Above all, make sure you give them the opportunity to tell you why they think they are struggling. There could be a simple explanation and a simple solution. 

If it is a performance issue, then make sure you set a date for your next meeting. There is nothing worse than setting out a plan and not following it through. 

There are many traits that make up a good team leader. It’s about getting a balance between being approachable, motivational and stern. 

As a leadership specialist, I am more than happy to offer advice or training solutions for your new leaders. Just get in touch and I’ll be happy to help.