How to Become a Daring Leader at Work

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Energy Bus" by Jon Gordon. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to know how to be a good team leader? What tips can help you to increase positivity and motivation in the workplace?

Knowing how to be a good team leader is essential for the success of your team. Having a great team leader inspires, motivates, and energizes a team, leading to greater productivity and success.

If you want to know how to be a good team leader, find out below. 

How to Be a Good Team Leader

Knowing how to be a good team leader is all about understanding the power of positivity and kindness. When you’re positive and genuinely care about your team, there will be a dramatic improvement in how your team’s productivity. 

Read on to find our tips about how to be a good team leader.

Tip 1: Lead From the Heart

The key to understanding how to be a good team leader is to lead from the heart. The heart is your power center, from which positive leadership flows. 

The Institute of HeartMath asserts that your heart communicates your feelings to cells throughout your body via the heart’s electromagnetic field. It also projects this energy beyond your body—up to10 feet away. Your brain has an electromagnetic field too, but your heart’s field is 5,000 times stronger. (Shortform note: The Institute of HeartMath promotes “energy medicine,” which some researchers have termed pseudoscience.)

This means that we’re broadcasting positive or negative energy from our hearts and people are picking up on it. We can sense or feel people’s hearts (their true feelings) and know if they’re being sincere or fake. Similarly, employees tune in to the energy of their leaders.

The word emotion stands for energy in motion; your energy determines your emotional state. Instead of letting negative emotions get a foothold, you need to take control and charge yourself up with positive energy.

When you’re happy and positive, those around you are happy and positive too. Your happiness is a gift to others. Instead, many people try to please others and end up feeling unhappy themselves. It’s better to focus on feeling good and let your happiness spread to others.

Try This Exercise 

We project positive or negative energy in whatever we do, and other people pick up on it. When you project positive energy, it’s contagious and other people want to be around you.

  • Think of the person in your office whom you most like to –work with. Describe the person. What kind of energy does he/she project?
  • Think of the person you most dislike working with and answer the above questions.
  • How would your colleagues describe what you’re like to work with? Where do you see room for improvement?

Tips 2: Show You Care

Enthusiasm is important, but love is the answer if you want to know how to be a good team leader. 

To tap the power of your heart and lead with enthusiasm, you need to become a “love magnet” by demonstrating love for your family, company, employees, and customers. While it sounds trite, the truth is that what everyone wants most is to be loved. Your employees want your love. A lack of appreciation can seriously demoralize employees. 

You can give employees awards, gifts, and raises, but these are soon forgotten. What sticks with them is a sense of whether you really care about them and are committed to their future. Your performance as a team leader isn’t just about hitting your goals and satisfying your boss; it’s about your employees. When they know you care about them, they respond in kind by being loyal and doing great work. But if you treat them as just a means to your next promotion, you’ll get cynicism in return.

The more you demonstrate true commitment to others, the more you get commitment and loyalty in return. Enthusiasm will get your team on the bus, but caring will keep them on it. Your caring will also improve the performance and productivity of your team.

Love is the most powerful emotion we have. It can literally make you stronger. When people try to bench press a lot of weight, they’re stronger when they think loving, positive thoughts than when they think negative, angry thoughts.

As a starting point, focus on bringing out the best in each team member. Help them to discover the inner value they possess. 

Part of caring is bringing out the best in others, or helping them to shine. When a team leader discovers and allows employees to use their strengths, the individual’s and team’s value increase.

Five Ways to Show You Care

1) Make time for them: Spend time with your employees. Instead of isolating yourself behind a desk, come out of your office and get to know your team. Meet with them one-on-one and get to know them as individuals. Be engaged with them, rather than thinking of other things or multitasking. Focus your energy on them and they will feel it.

2) Listen to them: Employees and customers want to be heard. Employees who feel listened to rate their managers higher. True listening isn’t just applying an “active listening” technique (such as paraphrasing to show understanding), but listening with your heart and caring about what they have to say. It’s showing empathy. When people feel they’ve been heard, their eyes grow moist. Robert K. Cooper writes in High Energy Living that in more than 95% of daily interactions, no moistening of the eyes occurs, meaning there’s not a genuine connection. When you ask someone how they’re doing, you can show you’re listening to their response by waiting for the answer and making eye contact.

3) Recognize them: Recognize your employees as people, not just business professionals. Don’t just give awards or trophies—make your recognition personal. For instance, managers can recognize team members’ birthdays with a handwritten card/note. Praise people when they’re doing great work and you’ll encourage more of it by making the employee feel valued and appreciated.

4) Serve them: The more you advance in your organization, the greater your obligation to serve the people below you rather than expecting them to serve you. The key is to nurture their development and passion so they enjoy work and being on your bus. 

5) Bring out people’s best: This is the most important thing you can do for your team. When you’re committed to someone, you want them to be successful. For a leader, that means helping your employees discover their strengths and providing opportunities to use them. The more that individuals can shine, the more your team and company can shine as well.

Try This Exercise 

Your employees and coworkers sense whether you care about them as individuals and they respond in kind. Ways to show that you care include: spending time with them, listening, recognizing them, nurturing their growth, and bringing out their best.

  • As a manager, how do you feel about your employees? As an employee, how do you think your boss feels about you?
  • How do you currently demonstrate your feelings about employees? How does your boss demonstrate his or her feelings toward you?
  • Thinking of a particular employee or coworker, what can you do to show caring and commitment to that person?

Tip 3: Have a Larger Purpose 

The final tip for how to be a good team leader is to have a larger purpose. 

Purpose is the most important fuel additive for your journey. Knowing your purpose keeps you energized and prevents burnout.

Consider the story about a visit President Lyndon Johnson made to NASA. Johnson is said to have encountered an energetic janitor in a hallway and remarked that the man was the best janitor he’d ever seen. The man replied that he was more than a janitor—by working on the NASA team, he contributed to the moon mission. The janitor was motivated to excel at his job because he felt part of a bigger purpose and mission.

Purpose infuses your everyday life with passion.

Many companies and their employees lack this kind of spirit. Their cultures kill people’s energy and spirit, resulting in low morale, negativity, and poor retention and performance. While big projects can be inspiring, companies need to create lasting energy. Find the bigger purpose before the product launch and let it fuel and continue to carry the team after the launch.

If you want to know more about the power of purpose, consider this story about two airplane design teams. One team was given a mission to build the world’s most advanced airplane and was shown a model of the aircraft. The other team was divided into small groups and each group was given a component to design; the subgroups weren’t given an overall mission or shown a model of the end product. The team with a mission and vision of the airplane worked twice as long and hard and finished in half the time as the other group. 

Try This Exercise

Having a larger purpose beyond the specific thing you do every day motivates you and fuels your everyday life with passion. For instance, the NASA janitor mentioned in the story was passionate about his work because he felt he was supporting the moon mission.

  • Think about what you and your team do every day, focusing on some specific things. What are some examples?
  • What do you think about these tasks? Are they energizing, boring, or something else? 
  • What difference do these tasks make to others or to your company? What personal or company goal do they contribute to?
  • How can you use the above answers to define a larger purpose that would motivate you and your team each day?
How to Be a Good Team Leader: 3 Easy Ways

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Jon Gordon's "The Energy Bus" at Shortform .

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  • How to turn things around when you feel unmotivated and discouraged
  • The 10 rules for reenergizing your life through positive thinking
  • How to build successful teams at work and improve your relationships

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

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