Strategies to Improve Teamwork as a Leader

Relationship management is more involved than assigning people to work together. It requires taking steps to ensure that relationships among coworkers are healthy and mutually beneficial.


It is important to develop your employees’ teamwork skills because they are crucial for your organization to operate. Teams that are built on trust, respect, and collaboration lead to higher levels of performance that just wouldn't be possible alone.


In this article, we explore what teamwork means and how you can develop teamwork in the workplace.


What is Teamwork?


team working together at whiteboard


Teamwork means having the ability to work with others toward a shared goal, participating actively, sharing responsibility and rewards, and contributing to the capability of the team as a whole. - Daniel Goleman

Why is teamwork an important aspect of leadership?


  • Teamwork creates an environment of respect, helpfulness, and cooperation.

  • Teams are important for the development of ideas and innovation (source).

  • Leaders skilled in team teamwork inspire problem-solving (source), efficiency, and productivity (source).

  • Teamwork helps each individual gain new skills and flourish (source).


A positive emotional workplace is essential so that people can focus their energy on achieving mutual goals.


Remember, if you want your team to become more emotionally intelligent, then you must first work on building your own emotional intelligence. As a leader, your role is not only to be a team member but also to inspire others to be good team members.



Are you Skilled, Unskilled, or Overusing the Skill?


The following are some examples of how you may be adept, falling short, or over-the-top in your team building skills. Take the time to evaluate and determine where you may need work.


Unskilled:

  • Not interested in concerns of team members.

  • Has no personal relationship with their team.

  • Does not clearly define roles and responsibilities of team members.

  • Lacks empathy and is detached from the emotions of team members.

Skilled:

  • Seeks feedback.

  • Understands the emotions of individuals.

  • Takes time to get to know their team.

  • Communicates well and makes sure that team members feel valued.

  • Takes steps to ensure that relationships among coworkers are healthy.

Overusing:

  • Gives feedback too frequently, also known as micromanaging.

  • Spends too much time on personal conversations as opposed to professional ones.

  • Gets overly attached and emotional to colleagues' experiences.



How to Encourage Teamwork as a Leader


leader encouraging teamwork

Here are ways to develop effective teamwork through the lens of emotional intelligence.


1. Understand Your Team Members


Your team members are more than employees or a job title. They are unique individuals with diverse skills and knowledge that can help meet your team’s goals.


If you want to make the most of every team member, then start by getting to know them better. Preferably, you should learn to know more about them outside of a project so that you can see what they can bring to the table beyond their traditional job role or title.


Additionally, it’s important to understand that every member of your team has a different personality and motivation.


What does this mean? Some people respond well to positive reinforcement, while others need more firm leadership. Some people appreciate more frequent touch bases, whereas others need more space to work.


Deepening your personal relationships with your team allows you to be an empathetic leader. You can then tailor your working style with them accordingly.


2. Build Trust Between Team Members


Having a sense of trust between colleagues helps strengthen an organization. It can help improve morale, decrease workplace anxiety, and ultimately improve the products and services the company is able to offer.


You want to lead your team in creating a trusting space between all people in your cohort and not just between individuals and yourself.


As a leader, you can build trust from the top down by openly communicating and making employees feel they’re valued and appreciated.


3. Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities


As a leader in your organization, your team will be looking to you to steer the course. So, before you present a new project, map out a plan and define roles and responsibilities. When mapping out your plan, consider what tasks you want to start on and which colleagues are best suited for each job. This is where emotional intelligence comes into play.


If you have taken the time to connect with and understand your employees, you will know which tasks are best suited to each member. Teams members will feel understood and valued. And setting clear goals for each team member will help keep them focused on their assigned tasks and responsibilities.


4. Build Team Emotional Intelligence (EQ)


Beyond understanding your team members, you should also engage in activities that help your team members build their own emotional intelligence. You can bring many workshops and seminars to your team to do this.


Harvard Business Review outlines four things you can do to build your team’s emotional intelligence.


  • Open the door to appreciation and build rapport.

If a team is unfamiliar with one another, open up the floor for people to speak about themselves. Have them share who they are, what motivates them, and what they are passionate about. Once you have spent time allowing your team to get to know one another, spend a few minutes at the beginning of weekly meetings for check-ins. Allow your colleagues to express the things they are working on and how they feel they are growing personally and professionally.


  • Allow for the airing of grievances.

Create a safe space for employees to speak about what makes them dissatisfied. You can make these anonymous with a “suggestion box.” When you share and respond to the things in said box, always do so respectfully so your team knows that you hear, see, and respect them.

  • Give praise where praise is due.

If you recognize team members for what they are doing well, they will want to keep doing it. This goes beyond the scope of productivity but interpersonal relationships, too. If you see an employee who shows exemplary empathy, call it out. Let your team members know that vulnerability is praised just as much as scoring a big client is.

  • Be a listening ear.

If your team members feel comfortable sharing with you and opening up, you will be more adept at identifying and diffusing conflicts before they come to a head.



Conclusion


Cultivating your emotional intelligence is the most effective way in which you can become a better team member and a stronger leader. If you enhance your empathy, self-awareness, and self-management, you can create the kind of team that genuinely values one another.


When we value ourselves, we can better value our teams. When our teams feel valued and appreciate each other, you will see long-lasting results. As Henry Ford said, “ If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself."


Next Steps


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