How to Lead a Team People WANT to Work on


So you want to be a Great Leader. A good plan would be to list the skills you need, see where you have gaps, then learn and practice those until you are a great leader. Right?

So, you do your research – and you find a list like this one. It’s from the Harvard Business Review, so it’s pretty good!

You read this list, and say OK, I need to have high morals, provide goals, communicate, be open to others opinions, give training, communicate, etc. There is no denying that all the things on the list are really important. You should work on building all these skills. (hopefully you already have the ethics and morals!) 

But here’s the problem. You can do all the right stuff in theory, and still be a LOUSY leader. And you can probably mess up some of the things on this list, and if you are willing to learn and improve, you can still be a GREAT leader.  

So what’s not on this list? What are the things you can do RIGHT NOW, that will make everyone want to work on YOUR team? Here’s what’s on MY list.

 Straight Talk. No BS.

  • Say what you mean, and mean what you say. It's that simple. You can’t build TRUST if you don’t tell the truth.
  • You hire SMART people. So why pretend they are stupid and can’t see when there is a problem? Tell people what’s going on. If you don’t know – say that. If you can’t share the information yet – say that.
  • And if you can’t answer them, tell people what you CAN tell them, and when.

Be Real. Be the Best version of Yourself.

  • Remember the Emperor with no clothes? Everyone knows when you are being FAKE, they just won’t say anything because you're the boss.
  • Be CONSISTENT – the person in the lunch room, meeting room and boardroom should be the same in personality and values, even if what you talk about is different
  • If you are funny in person, use some humour. If you love sports, tell a sports story. But find a way to put YOUR personal stamp on your communication. It makes you real. 
  • Nothing is more inspiring than honesty. Especially in difficult or awkward situations. Your team will respect you for it. 

You work with PEOPLE, not robots. Act like it.

  • Get to know your team PERSONALLY. Ask them about their lives. Get to know at least 1 personal thing about everyone on your team! 
  • ASK people what their aspirations are. You can’t help them get there if you don’t know what they want.
  • Say Please and Thank you. In person, in emails. Publicly. A little APPRECIATIONand kindness goes a long way!
  • CELEBRATE birthdays, weddings, engagements, babies – any excuse for cake really!
  •  EMPATHY goes a long way. Be kind to the person who has a sick mother or child. Cut people some slack when they are going through a tough time. They will remember it and will pay you back with hard work and loyalty for a long time.

Take your Work Seriously. But it's OK to have FUN at the office!

  • My team knows I am deadly serious when it comes to delivering results, but boy can we have fun with pranks and jokes along the way!
  • Being willing to LAUGH at yourself is a great equalizer with your team.
  • Having team FUN doesn’t have to cost a lot. Try rock climbing, ping pong tournaments, or escape rooms. Pot luck meals are a great way to learn about each person’s culture. Or a simple pizza lunch can be fun. Change it up!
  • Find out what YOUR team actually wants to do – and just make it happen!

Be the Leader Your Team NEEDS – not the One you LIKE to be.

  • Fill the Void. Figure out what your team NEEDS and give them that.
  • Sometimes they need guidance. Sometimes an encouraging coach. Or and extra set of hands to help. Sometimes you just need to get out of the way!
  • During tough projects when the team is doing the hard work and they don’t need me – I go get the coffee, or pizza or ice-cream. You can never have too much caffeine and sugar! (and chocolate of course)
  • Roll up your sleeves and do what’s needed to get the job done.


Original Post by: Katya Forsyth 

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