If you’ve ever lead a team, you’ll know that some aspects of leadership are going to be unpleasant. Giving criticism, assigning tasks, and enforcing deadlines while still managing to be liked by your team is never an easy feat.
Personally, being liked by my team is very important to me - I don’t want to be the type of boss who isn’t close to or respected by her own team. Recently, one of my fellow marketers wrote me a love letter of sorts. This blog post is a response both to that blog and to my team members, but also my own personal Team Leader Guide Book that I would like to share with marketing teams everywhere.
Based on my own experience leading a close knit team of marketing, branding, and copywriting geeks (whom I love!) these are the top qualities I think will make your team love you the same way you, their boss, love them.
1. Teach Your Team
Believe me, there is no team leader less accepted or loved than one who commands others to do things they could not or will not do themselves. If you have knowledge and experience under your belt (and hopefully, if you’re in a position of leadership, you do and in abundance) share it with your team. Give constructive feedback. If you do your job well, your team members will be inspired and motivated by your prowess and not by your title or your age.
The most rewarding thing for any boss should be to see their employees gain recognition based on something you inspired or taught them to do. When you find yourself being schooled by your own employees based on skills they picked up thanks to you, you know you’ve done your job right.
Here at Bynder, we’re all about our learning culture. Twice a month, we hold a Marketing Class where a member of the team shares either a trick or tool they discovered recently, or something cool they came across. Afterwards, we discuss how what we learned is applicable to our own marketing department and we outline potential action points. The team loves these classes because not only is it a learning opportunity, it’s a chance to impress!
2. Act Human
You can be a pro and show your emotions at the same time. Don’t play it cool. Be excited for new ideas (especially ones that don’t come from you) and appreciate your team’s hard work.
Moreover, make sure to appreciate their efforts both to their faces, and outside the team to other departments and bosses.
Celebrate successes, but also be sure to foster an environment where frustration and concern can be expressed without repercussions. Bad moods and disappointment are to be expected in every walk of life, but resentment is NEVER okay. Sit down with your team and, after you all air out your grievances, figure out how you’re going to get out of this mess together.
If a member of our team has a bad day (and I’m including myself here), one of our tricks is to cheer each other up by sending funny cat videos. This one is a particular favourite. Sometimes, on a particularly bad day, we even act it out (we aren’t crazy, I swear…)
3. Assume Responsibility
Part of a leader’s job is to assume responsibility. So, no matter what goes wrong - and something will always go wrong at some point - capable leaders take responsibility for the actions of their entire team, and not just find a scapegoat.
As a leader, it’s your job to take responsibility for the fact that you didn’t explain the task well enough or you didn’t test enough (and you know that you should ALWAYS test until you’re blue in the face). When you show your team that you are sincerely willing to take the hit for their mistakes, you inspire loyalty. Moreover, at the end of the day, you are accountable for your team and all of their output.
4. Get Your Own Hands Dirty
Simply put, be a member of your own team, not just a distant leader. Don’t act (or feel) entitled and above working hard. Don't micromanage without putting in any actual labour. Lead by example, and just start working. Make it clear to your team that they work alongside you, not for you, and that you are all working towards the same tangible goal.
If there is a deadline to meet, our entire marketing team - from CMO to intern - works together to help each other out. No task is ever too tedious or too trivial for anyone.
Our marketing team has a rule: everyone on our team writes one blog post per week. It’s Friday night, and I still haven’t delivered mine, so I’m writing it now (and hoping that my team will consider 10pm on Friday night as part of the workweek...)
At the end of the day, If you don’t practice what you preach, your team will never respect you.
I want to express the BIGGEST thanks to the best team in the world: Alisa, Nhi, Marnix, Phil, Paul, Wouter, Mike, Briana. I love you all, and what you’re doing is amazing! #TeamSexy