3+ ways to try to be a better team leader

You did it! Now you’re in charge.

You are the team leader of your deparment. Now what?

It’s hard to be a leader. It’s even harder to be a respected one.

How do you earn the trust of your teammates? How do you know if they respect you and if they will follow you? These are the questions that bothers me every single day.

I’m far from being the team leader that I would like but I try every day to be as good as I can and to improve just a little bit; to be this week a little less worse than the previous.

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I have 4 rules that I try to follow (and sometimes I fail).

1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain

This is the first principle of Dale Carnegie‘s How to win friends and influence people. Try to not criticize when someone do a mistake: we’ve done mistakes so many times that we’re no-one to elevate ourselves and judge other people. Instead we try to understand why that kind of mistake was done and find a way so we can learn from that and possibly do not repeat the same thing in the future.

This is the hardest rule, to me. When I’m upset about something or when my mood is not so good this principle is very hard to follow. I try to have an open-minded attitude and to be patient.

2. Give Honest, Sincere Appreciation

This is the second principle of Dale Carnegie. I know: Dale Carnegie influenced me a lot.

People need appreciation like air. We cannot live today with the air we breathed yesterday. If a member of the team has done a good job we say thank you and appreciate what has been done. The appreciation is better if specific and precise.

There is a catch, though. We must mean it; really mean it because otherwise it’ll come across as flattery.

This is my favourite rule. I’m excited to give appreciation. I like to say bravo when someone does something good or on time. Being on time is hard so it has to be recognized. I like to appreciate skills that I don’t have, too. It makes me glad to be part of diverse team with many skills.

3. Help the team

As leaders our main goal is to help. Help can spread across many activities: explaining things over and over again until they’ve been understood, doing pair programming to solve a hard problem, doing a phone call to a coworker to ask if everything is ok. We also help the team by organizing a better way to work, to avoid distractions and to be more focused.

4. Apologize early

We all do something wrong. As leaders we are the example to follow and when we do mistakes (and we do a lot) we must be humble and apologize as soon as possible and with honesty.

Conclusions

This is my set of rules that I try to apply every day. Some days are good, some days are worse.

I think that, at the end of the day, the most important thing is to work in a positive environment where feedback is encouraged and errors are recognized as occasions to improve.

What do you do every day to work better your teammates?

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