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10 Things Good Leaders Say to Their Teams

10 Things Good Leaders Say to Their Teams

Good leaders know that communicating the right ideas and messages is key. What we think becomes what we say, and what we say becomes what we do. If you want to lead your team to success, start using these words and phrases to get their thoughts – and then their actions – moving in the right direction.

1. Thank you.

A good leader is quick to acknowledge the help and contributions from the team. Leadership is not a one-man show, and it’s definitely not about hogging the attention or grabbing the spotlight. People need to hear an acknowledgement of their effort, even for small things. It’s encouraging and shows them that their work is noticed and appreciated. That kind of encouragement not only builds unity in a team but also helps each individual want to contribute more.

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2. I’m sorry.

There’s no such thing as a flawless leader, which means that even the best of leaders will make mistakes from time to time. That’s okay if you know how to handle yourself when you make a mistake: admit it, and apologize for it. Then do what it takes to make it right. A good leader will be quick to acknowledge her own mistakes, even if it does seem embarrassing or humiliating. Trying to cover up mistakes only leads to bigger mistakes. Saying “I’m sorry,” on the other hand, is the best way to start fixing your mistake and moving forward again.

3. Our purpose is…

Don’t assume that your team is crystal-clear on their purpose. Maybe they all started out that way, but it’s surprisingly easy, over time, to get a little fuzzy about the team’s purpose. But a team without a clear purpose is a team without unity or any cohesive way to make decisions and plans. Work out a short, memorable way to state the purpose of the team that you’re leading, then say it every day, to yourself and to your team.

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4. What do you think?

A good leader is eager to get help and insight from his team members. He’s not interested in being a know-it-all, but in getting the best information and creative ideas and working with his team on great solutions. Your team is full of experts that you’ve hand-picked. Let them know you value their expertise and insight by asking for it, and then listening when they tell you what they think.

5. We did it!

Anytime you lead your team past a challenge, over an obstacle, or to another milestone, stop and acknowledge it. Acknowledge verbally what’s been done, and that the team, working together, did it. It’s not about your leadership but about the people you’re leading. Celebrate the accomplishments and you’re likely to be making more.

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6. Our focus right now is…

Though your team’s purpose is something that stays fairly stable from month-to-month, the focus can shift dramatically. You may be nose-down on a project, then have to swerve to handle a crisis. It’s important to communicate on a weekly or even daily basis what the focus is for your team. You can’t expect them to read your mind. Clarify what matters most, right now, and your team will know how to pull together and get the most important work done.

7. Let’s talk about it.

Sometimes you’re going to have to deal with interpersonal conflict. Sometimes you’ll be looking at a problem that is so new and daunting no one knows how to start. Sometimes you will all feel like you’re out of ideas. Sometimes you will think you have the perfect solution and be eager to launch the team forward without a glance backward. In all of those situations, a good leader will say those magic four words: “Let’s talk about it.” Pulling your whole team into an open discussion, or sitting down privately to talk about an issue, will result in everyone on the team being heard. Your team can point out flaws and problems, and can also present ideas and solutions. A good leader doesn’t try to produce all the magic; she just helps bring it out in the people around her.

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8. This is our challenge…

When you are facing a potential problem, an obstacle, a big deadline, an impossible client, a huge project, or any combination of the above, it’s time to say these words. Clarify the challenge. Name it. Define it. Get it out there and look at it from all angle. Pretending it’s not there or letting it seem bigger than it is are both marks of poor leadership. There’s no need to be afraid of what you’re facing as a team. There is a need to clearly define the challenge so you can all think about the best way to tackle it.

9. Let’s review…

Every day is a day to learn. A good leader is always looking for the lesson, for the insight, for the new data or method that will make next time an even greater success. Did something go wrong? Let’s review the whole process and figure out what we learned. Did something go right? Let’s review the whole process and make sure we know what made it successful.

10. You did a great job on…

A good leader will hand out congratulations generously and specifically. Praising the team as a whole is a good thing to do; it’s also important to single out contributions at an individual level. The most powerful praise is both specific and sincere. As you work with your team, make note of what each person does well, and be sure to offer them acknowledgement for that the right time. When’s the right time? Well, whenever you want to be an even better leader than you already were.

Featured photo credit: Gruenemann via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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