Becoming a Team-Oriented Leader

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By. Dr. Sabrina Brandon Ricks, SBR Workplace Leadership Services

Did you know that the concept of teamwork did not become popular in the United States until the 1980s?  Research completed by William Ouchi led us to what is now known as Theory Z.  This theory helped Americans combine some ways of running businesses with the characteristics of how the Japanese run businesses; we learned that there was more production in Japan during that time.  When we realized that we could combine some individualistic traits with collectivistic traits, this new way of operating was created: teamwork!

Following are six tips to help you become a leader who is also a team player – not a leader who only sits in a corner office and sees others as beneath you.  Teamwork ensures everyone is on the same playing field and working towards the same goals, collectively.

Tip #1:  Ask for the opinions of others. 

Although the leader of the team may make the final decision, it is best to do so after having received the input of others to make an educated and informed decision that is beneficial for the entire team.

Tip #2:  Be open-minded and flexible. 

It can be easy to fall into a routine and to want to stick to a script, but life does not follow a script.  A team-oriented leader will adjust where necessary and be open to new ideas and ways of doing things.

Tip #3:  Adapt to change. 

We can rest assured that change will always come especially in the workplace.  Look at the prime example of COVID impacting businesses around the world.  Without the ability to adapt to change and adjust accordingly, a business may fail during times of change.  Discuss contingencies plans within your organizations for major changes that could impact your team and respond accordingly when those changes arise.

Tip #4:  Accept your role on the team. 

Although leaders feel that they need to lead all the time, there may be opportunities that present themselves where a leader needs to follow.  This can feel uncomfortable for a leader who is not team-oriented.  This is why becoming a team-oriented leader is so crucial.  Different circumstances may call for areas in which another team member may have more experience or be stronger, and you may temporarily be moved into a follower role. You have to adjust accordingly while still contributing your all to the team.

Tip #5:  Motivate/Inspire. 

It is essential that a team-oriented leader keep their team excited and motivated about reaching for and achieving the goals set forth for the team.  There may be milestones that are recognized along the way, team members that are acknowledged, and a team award when the goals are met.  This keeps the team excited, motivated, inspired, and ready for the next goal or challenge.

 Tip #6:  Coach and mentor others. 

Although being a leader can keep one busy, it is important to take the time to groom others who come behind you.  You will one day be promoted, maybe move to another office, retire, or otherwise – and the organization still has to thrive after your time has been completed.  It is helpful to prepare those who will advance after you without feeling threatened that they may be better than you or try to take your job before you leave.  Be confident and secure enough in your abilities that you can groom others without fear that they will out do you.  Leading others to become leaders is the best way to orient the team.

Teamwork is as crucial today as it was in the 1980s when it became popular in the United States.  Do not stop working to make improvements, grow professionally, and ensure everyone feels good when they step into your workplace and on your team.  SBR Workplace Leadership Services can provide guidance in offering team building workshops, other organizational trainings, executive coaching, curriculum design, and more. Contact SBR Workplace Leadership Services to learn more.

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