What does good leadership look like in 2022? How can you put your best foot forward where you work, whether you’re managing a team or an entire company? In March, we’ll plumb the topic through Q&As from top-tier industry leaders, contributions from Inman columnists (the leaders in their field) and more. Then we’ll keep the leadership conversation going in person at Inman Disconnect in late March in Palm Springs, California.
This article last updated on March 3, 2022.
Great team leaders have learned to juggle a thousand different priorities. Multitasking, delegating and leveraging are all skills they’ve had to develop to continue to grow.
But among the myriad of leadership skills they’ve had to hone, seven stand out as being critical for success. And the bigger the team gets, the more important these behaviors become. Here are the skills, strategies and principles all great team leaders have down pat.
1. Live the team’s core values and principles
Great team leaders know their primary responsibility is to make people feel great about the team. This starts with the team itself.
Leaders need to embody the team’s core values. They understand that they set the tone for the culture — be it good or bad. They lead from the front and strive to set a good example for everyone else.
2. Take an active role in the team’s sales, which includes shaping sales strategy and tactics
The bigger and more diverse the team becomes, the more removed the leader tends to get from the street. Great leaders, however, purposely stay connected to the front lines, especially with those who are driving revenue.
By working hand in hand with those driving sales, they lead with authority. In an industry that’s constantly evolving and changing, they are active in responding with practical and actionable strategies and tactics.
3. Never underestimate the importance of details
Although it’s not important to know everything, it is crucial to know enough to ask and answer questions. It’s the details that hold the secret to greatness. No great leader approaches anything with the attitude that “good” is good enough.
Successful leaders typically have their fingers on the pulse of their business — they know it inside out. When they feel something’s not right, they know where to dig to fix the problem.
4. Meet opposition head on
Great leaders aren’t afraid of conflict. Any opposition — both internally and externally — is dealt with directly.
These leaders boldly protect their team’s best interests. Conflict isn’t necessarily seen as a bad thing as long as it’s constructive and ultimately beneficial for their clients and the team.
5. Recognize the difference between being ‘tough’ and being ‘mean’
Tough leaders are caring, fair and respectful of others. Mean leaders, on the other hand, haven’t learned to control their temper. Outbursts aren’t attractive with children — and they are downright ugly and inexcusable with adults.
Great leaders inspire, uphold high standards and build people up to meet them.
6. Never underestimate the importance of hiring the right people
Selecting the wrong candidate in a hurried situation can be costly. The right people are always hard to find. Getting the right person, for the right role, at the right time is an art form.
Great team leaders understand the value of a good recruiting strategy. They take their time during hiring process and address any hiring errors quickly.
7. Foster an environment that encourages constructive criticism
Good leaders tend to have inflated egos and are sensitive to feedback. Great leaders are secure in who they are and encourage constructive criticism. They know surrounding themselves with “yes” people limits their progress.
They understand they need to hear differing opinions to grow. They want to be challenged — the development of the team depends on it.
Great team leaders have a million things to squeeze into each day. Clients, vendors, staff and associates all clamor for attention and time. Good team leaders handle all the demands, but they do so a bit frantically and at the edge of their control.
By prioritizing the seven traits above, great leaders handle it all with grace, poise and enough energy left over to enjoy life along the way.
Chris Pollinger, partner, Berman & Pollinger, LLC is a senior sales and operational executive skilled in strategic leadership, culture building, business planning, sales, marketing, acquisitions, operations, recruiting, and team building.