How to Lead Your Team with Confidence
You’ve probably noticed that I’m all in favor of delegation.
I firmly believe that trying to do everything yourself is a surefire way to torpedo your own business, especially if you’ve got recurring tasks that can be handed off to capable contractors. Entrepreneurs MUST learn to build great teams, ask for help, and share their workloads.
Of course, “building a great team” will inevitably lead to “managing a great team,” and many of us are less-than-confident in our leadership abilities. Overseeing employees is a skill set that is typically learned over time, so it’s only natural to feel a bit nervous when you suddenly find yourself in charge of a small fleet of freelancers!
Don’t worry, though! I’ve got five simple mindset shifts that can help you ease into leadership quickly and naturally.
Even if you’re new to the team-leading game yourself, you’ve likely been a member of a team at some point in your career. Think about leaders you worked for who were gifted, supportive, and inspiring. What did those folks do that made you trust and admire them? How did they handle sticky situations? Did they have any consistent practices (check-in meetings, weekly summary emails, etc.) that seemed to work well for all of their direct reports, regardless of personality type?
Model your own leadership style on this person (or people), drawing on their expertise and time-tested techniques. Whenever you find yourself needing to confront, correct, or redirect a contractor, ask yourself, “How would my leadership role model respond in this situation?”
Focus on Strengths
Can you guess which common management technique virtually never works? Forcing team members to work on their weaknesses.
Studies have proven that people perform better and are far happier in their jobs if they get to focus on and utilize their natural strengths. Of course, you’ll want to hire contractors whose strengths are a great fit to your own weaknesses, allowing YOU to invest your energy into tasks you enjoy and excel at.
But if you find that a certain team member consistently fumbles a particular type of project, don’t scold; reassign. Give that work to someone who will knock it out of the park, and let all of your contractors do what they do best.
Listen to Feedback
This is a toughie, I know, but SO important! Naturally, you’re in charge of your own business and have the final word on all significant decisions … but if you want your contractors to function as an actual, unified, supportive team, you need to be willing to hear them out. They may have ideas, tweaks, or input that’s derived from their specialized knowledge of certain areas of your business, and ignoring their feedback could prove deadly.
That said, know that you always have ultimate veto power!
Strong leaders don’t waffle. They decide, delegate, and move on. If you tend to mull things over for ages, be aware that doing so makes you look indecisive and apprehensive. Naturally, you don’t want to jump the gun, especially when it comes to choices that may be costly or time-consuming, but learning to trust your gut is essential. Get comfortable making fast decisions. Doing so will help your team keep the pace steady and strong.
Keep it Professional
It can be tempting to pal around with your team members, especially if you all work on-site together, and camaraderie can be fantastic among co-workers. But it’s important to separate business from friendship, even if you’ve hired your sister-in-law or best friend. Set clear boundaries around your expectations for each contractor, and do so from the start. If everyone is on the same page when it comes to working standards and behaviors, it will save you a heap of trouble if you ever have to issue reprimands.
Need more help? I’ve got a ton of great posts in my archive that will help you build your confidence as a leader! Here are a few faves:
- How to Keep Your Team Happy and Productive
- How to Hold Your Team Accountable: 7 Great Tips
- How to Build a Great Working Relationship with Your Assistant
- How to Give a Constructive Performance Review