As students, there are many occasions where we have to step up as a leader. Whether it be a group project, an RSO, or at work, it is something most of us have experienced and leading a team, especially for the first time, can be pretty overwhelming. As a leader, people are looking to you for direction and guidance to achieve a common goal. So, how do we effectively lead a team? Here are six tips to help you:
Tip 1: Set Expectations
The first and most important task of a leader is to set expectations with your team. Starting off with a foundation of what you are expecting from each member of your team allows both you and them to know what needs to be done.
Tip 2: Define a Common Purpose
A vision of what you are trying to accomplish can be used as a motivator for your team. Defining what you are trying to achieve and how you are trying to achieve it creates a sense of common purpose, or the idea that we are all working towards the same goal.
Tip 3: Building Community
To work effectively together as a team, it is important for you to build relationships and get to know one another. There are many ways you can go about building community with your team. You can do team building exercises, do an outside of work hangout, or do icebreakers that encourage bonding.
Tip 4: Delegate Work
As a leader, it can be easy getting stuck doing all or most of the work yourself, especially if you don’t know how to delegate properly. It is important to remember you have a team who is ready and willing to do their part to ensure the group is successful. Delegate responsibilities as needed to ensure everyone has work to do relevant to their role.
Tip 5: Transparency and Communication
When leading a team, clear and concise communication is key to getting information across effectively. By being transparent with your team about the problems you are facing, you avoid miscommunications which can enable conflict to occur.
Tip 6: Empathy and Understanding
Whether you are a leader or just a member of a team, we still have personal lives that we need to prioritize. Things happen that are out of our control, that's why it is important to lead with empathy and understanding. It is important to remember, the people on your team are human, they have personal lives, and they have other commitments. When something comes up and they need to miss a deadline or meeting, be understanding of their situation and support them however you can. This will keep your team motivated and happy with their work.
As a student at UIUC, I have had many opportunities to lead. These tips are what I have learned from my personal experiences and the many leaders in my life I have looked up to. This is what I have discovered to work for me as a leader, however, everyone has a different leadership style, so try to find what works for you. These six tips are just meant to be a starting point to encourage growth and success as a leader. Hopefully by implementing these tips with your team, you will find a more united and motivated team.