7 ways to lead your team more effectively

A good leader is only as strong as their team.

When you think of an effective leader, who comes to mind? Your last boss, who held weekly meetings to check in with their small group of employees? Or perhaps a parental figure, who consistently proved their dedication in supporting, motivating and encouraging you to be your very best?

Whoever you imagine, they likely embodied key leadership practices and skills that inspired growth and achievement in many aspects of their team's lives. If you want to master effective leadership for your team, learning those same skills should help you reach your goals—and in turn, your team should develop leadership skills of their own.

Here is a list of 7 key traits and practices that are often essential to effective leadership.

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How to lead your team effectively

In truth, there's no one best way to effectively lead a team. Each leader, team and work environment will have different needs that necessitate different leadership styles. Even so, effective leaders in different settings often share similar skills. It's these skills that usually allow leaders to better empower and engage employees, keeping them motivated, happy, efficient and productive.

Here are 7 valuable types of leadership skills that may help you be a better team leader.

1. Be communicative and accessible

An effective leader is one who communicates well with their team on a regular basis. You should be able to clearly communicate how to do a task or project and why it's valuable for the business. Not only should this help your team stay motivated and invested in their work, but it should also build transparency that fosters trust in your leadership. 

Your team should feel comfortable coming to you to discuss concerns and ask questions. In return, you should make sure you're available and easy to reach when they need you, such as through email, text, a Zoom call or stopping by your office. Accessibility often shows your team that they can rely on you when they face a challenge or hardship. Plus, encouraging regular, open communication may help avoid unnecessary delays and keep you apprised of project progress and how the team is performing.

2. Develop your team into leaders

An effective leader should also help each member of their team grow in their potential and become leaders themselves. Doing so should empower them to be more confident and give them a sense of pride in themselves while building a team that excels and is more self-sufficient. Each team member is unique, with their own interests and aspirations, and each may respond differently to the same leadership approach.

It's also important for leaders to diversify their teams in order to fill skill gaps. Identifying these areas and being able to create and develop leaders in those areas is one way to ensure that all areas are covered. Tapping new talent pools can help narrow these skills gaps, create new leaders, drive innovation and create lasting value. 

As their leader, you typically have the responsibility to work one-on-one with each member to help them foster a growth mindset and advance in their role, providing opportunities that align with their strengths and goals. Great ways to do this include:

  • Helping them see the bigger picture by focusing on goals rather than tasks.
  • Including stretch assignments that increase skills and grow responsibilities.
  • Delegating some leadership responsibilities to enhance their authority.

3. Motivate your team with a vision

Having a worthy vision may help unite your team and encourage them to work together to accomplish a goal instead of being fragmented and working toward individual goals across the project. When your team works toward a common goal, whether it's the overarching business mission or the success of a unique project, they're more likely to develop a team mentality and help each other succeed in reaching that goal, improving efficiency. Building a successful team and recognizing the team’s accomplishments as a unit may strengthen that team mentality and further motivate them to work harder together.

4. Encourage your employees to think outside the box

Though it may seem counterintuitive, strong leaders typically grant their team a certain amount of autonomy. If your team is only able to act when given a direct order or instruction, the environment may become stale and encourage only obedience instead of innovation and improvement. Consider giving your team some level of autonomy relating to their strengths to overcome obstacles or approach a unique task. You're sure to witness more innovation, collaboration and improved output. This enhanced level of independence and responsibility can also boost confidence, engagement and pride in their work.

5. Give credit where credit is due

Recognizing and praising achievements may inspire your team to perform better and work harder. On both an individual and team level, workers who know that their efforts are seen and appreciated usually have a higher sense of loyalty, appreciation and dedication toward the business. Sincere praise may help prevent burnout, maintain motivation and develop genuine trust in your leadership.

6. Create a safe environment

An effective leader should also cultivate a safe and supportive company culture for their team to work in. This doesn’t just refer to actual safety concerns and physical hazards; more important, your team should feel safe in placing their trust and confidence in you and each other. When individuals feel supported and comfortable, they're more likely to go above and beyond to accomplish goals for the business. They may also enjoy their work more and have fun while completing tasks, which may combat burnout and improve morale and productivity. 

Providing sufficient resources, removing project obstacles, communicating clearly, staying levelheaded under pressure, working alongside your team and accepting accountability are often key steps leaders take to create a sense of safety and support.

7. Guide through hardships

The true test of a great leader is how well they lead their team during times of crisis and hardship. Whether it's an impending economic downturn, working through a busy season or changes within the organization, being able to adapt and guide your team can often make or break you and your team's success. When change is coming or you’re facing big challenges, fostering communication and support for your team is essential.

Be explicitly clear about how the business is responding to any given situation and how it may affect the team at the group and individual levels. When engaging your team during uncertain times, it's important to provide ample resources and guidance to support your team through the transition. Have frequent meetings to monitor how your team is doing and inform them of their and the business's performance. Leading with honesty, transparency and genuine concern for your team will almost always earn their trust and respect, so they'll follow you with confidence through whatever comes your way. 

Measuring your leadership effectiveness

Because measuring leadership effectiveness is qualitative rather than quantitative, there are usually few metrics to concretely measure how effective your leadership is and has been. However, reviewing your team's growth, performance and development both personally and professionally should give you an idea. 

Effective leadership often imparts values and skills that extend beyond the workplace, enriching employees' personal lives. Traits like confidence, pride, discipline and teamwork are often invaluable in achieving personal goals and wellness. Plus, employees who experience fulfillment, security and even contentment with work are more likely to take that joy with them outside of work as well, improving their quality of life and performance on and off the clock.

Therefore, when you have a team that's advancing and thriving in every aspect of their lives, it's often due to exceptional leadership that supports, encourages and empowers them.

Learn more about Capital One's business products and services that can help support you, your team and your business.

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