Top 4 take-charge practices to lead your team

published by the Nashville Business Journal

The finest leaders I have worked with and studied from afar are clear and confident. They set unmistakable direction and paint a simple, well-defined picture for short- and long-term goals. The payoff? Every team member on a well-led team knows exactly where the train is going. Knowledgeable and prepared people accomplish more, which in turn reflects positively on the leader. 

I spent half of my working life at Tractor Supply, devoting most of my time to coaching store managers and team members about how to be good leaders. It’s an investment in my time that paid off in infinite ways. Here are four take-charge leadership practices that always pay off:

Empowerment: Smart leaders stay engaged with their team, but ultimately they don’t do the work or even make the decisions. Instead attentive managers work closely with and empower the people they’re leading. They push decision-making as far down the ladder as possible—to the workers who really know the products and services. 

Communication: Effective leaders build a solid, trusting team atmosphere by sharing all relevant information. At Tractor Supply we prided ourselves on being a “no secrets” company, because we knew that the more people knew the sooner and more effectively they achieved corporate goals. Withholding information only acts to undermine communication and collaboration.

Recognition: Recognizing good performance is also essential to building teamwork. A simple pat on the back can do wonders for both individual motivation and team morale. When a big success is achieved, it’s time for celebration. 

Time management: In addition to guiding others, leaders earn respect by taking charge of their own time. Often executives who allow assistants to schedule their calendars are left wondering why there’s no time available for the highest priority tasks. Take back your time by looking at the big picture first. Months ahead, block out important priorities such as big meetings, special events, family time and vacation. Day to day, monitor your time by effectively directing meetings: 1) circulate an agenda, 2) limit time on each topic and 3) even end a few minutes early. 

The most successful leaders take charge by setting well-defined direction for their teams—and themselves.

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