What are the traits that make a leader good? Some would say that having strong ethical and moral standards are the most significant traits leaders should have. Others would say it’s integrity that’s the most important quality of a good leader. There are some who would go as far as to tell that positivity is the number one leadership trait.
For someone who has a project to complete and a team to manage, ethics, integrity, and positivity might not be the top priorities. It’s nice to have them, no doubt about it, but team leaders often don’t have the time to think about whether they came off positive enough when interacting with team members. Their minds are often somewhere else.
“It’s not that complicated,” says Jenny Johnson, an executive at Flatfy. “A good team leader needs to ensure the team delivers on time, within the budget, and to the satisfaction of everyone involved.” One of the tools a team leader can use in achieving these goals is the ability to delegate. And here’s how to delegate and become a better team leader in the process.
Decide What to Delegate to Whom
A good leader needs to know which tasks to take on personally, which to delegate, and who the best people for handling those tasks are. A team leader who doesn’t delegate risks of underdelivering, suffering from burnout, and eventually being shunned by the team because of a lack of cooperation.
A good leader needs to let the team in on some of the work. The decisions about who gets to do what under which circumstances can make or break a leader. A bad leader will delegate only occasionally, and in a way that seems inherently unfair. They might give easier tasks to favorites. They might give difficult tasks to those who are not in their good grace. They might give only tasks they themselves don’t like doing.
Fairness is a highly desirable trait in a team leader, and anyone in a leadership position who would like to appear as being fair should start with deciding who does what and when. Some ways to ensure a fair distribution of work include:
- Make delegating work a norm, not an exception.
- Ensure that competency, motivation, and access to resources are the main team member selection criteria.
- Let the team members or at least the ones that report to the leader directly, in on the decision-making process when delegating.
A team leader who adopts these premises will do a couple of things. They’ll boost team participation in decision making. They’ll set up grounds for a meritocratic approach to leadership. And they’ll make cooperation and sharing in the work a part of being on the team. And that’s a great start.
Learn How to Communicate Effectively
Effective communication has a profound influence on project success rates. Surveys and studies show that effective communication makes it 28% more likely for a team to finish the project within budget, 34% more likely to finish it on time, and 28% more likely to meet original goals. These numbers can mean a lot for any team, or any business.
Team leaders are not the only people in charge of creating effective communication within a business. Within their teams, however, they carry a lot of responsibility for ensuring that everyone knows what they need to know at the exact time they need. Even if the team leaders aren’t the one who create reporting procedures, they still dictate to a large part the communication culture within the team.
When delegating tasks, team leaders have several ways to ensure the quality and effectiveness of communication:
- Use a range set of communication channels, e.g., in person, email, or apps such as Slack.
- Be clear about the task, its scope, and the outcomes.
- Make sure team members understand the context for their tasks.
- Explain to the team member the evaluation criteria for their performance.
- Set aside time to answer questions and ask for confirmation that the team member understood what they need to do.
Even though the basics of effective communication often sound like little more than common sense, it bears repeating them. Having them as a handy checklist might be a good idea for team leaders who want to ensure there are no misunderstandings when delegating tasks. If the team leader clearly communicated what they need from the team member, and the member said they understand, it’s time for the next phase.
Monitor the Delegated Tasks
The team leader’s work doesn’t stop when there are no more tasks to delegate. The leader of the team is also responsible for the results of the whole team. That usually translates into task management and monitoring activities, an area where a leader can easily lose the trust they established with the team.
When managing and monitoring the tasks they delegated, team leaders need to find the middle ground between a laissez-faire attitude and helicopter parenting techniques. Either approach would probably fail because the team leader still needs to provide support and monitoring, but they need to do it in a way that will not smother the team members or affect their self-confidence.
Depending on the company, the type of project, the task, as well as the team members, the leader might already have some of their work cut out for them. In some cases, the execution of the tasks and the role of the team leader will be obvious or clearly defined.
But if there’s some room for team leaders to develop their style, here are a couple of things that might help get the job done and improve the quality of leadership:
- Rely on available task management solutions for management and monitoring.
- Don’t hover — check in regularly without being disruptive to the work process.
- Occasionally assess the work on the fly, correct swiftly when necessary.
- Focus on the collaborative nature of task delegation, especially when criticizing work.
- Keep the criticism constructive.
Team leaders need to guide their teams through the finish line on every project they do together. That’s not something that happens without considerable trust. One of the most significant statements of lack of trust is when a team leader delegates a task, only to become too involved in its execution through too much checking up. Team members need the trust, and they need room to work.
The final phase of delegating tasks is what happens when the tasks are done. There are many possible outcomes for every task or every project, but it’s useful to divide them into the good or desirable ones, and bad or undesirable ones. The team leader needs to be able to handle both with grace and generosity. The rule of thumb says that giving credit publicly where credit is due is good.
However, it’s not a good idea to single out team members publicly when things go wrong. A team member who does something wrong needs to hear about it. But there’s no need to do it in front of their fellow team members, or in any other way that will humiliate them. A team leader who does that to their team members will lose trust in a heartbeat, and it’s impossible to lead a team or efficiently delegate without trust.
Looking for a tool to help you manage your team? Pipefy made task management easier!
About the author:
Kate is a passionate writer who likes sharing her thoughts and experience with the readers. Currently, she works as a real estate agent, you can check her website. She likes everything related to traveling and new countries.