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Bring out the best—quietly

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Team Building

Congratulations! You’ve been appointed to lead your first team. You rehearse your welcome speech, prepare detailed notes for the first meeting and make sure you articulate clear objectives.

Now relax. You don’t have to worry so much about what you’re going to say. The key to team leadership is knowing how to pull back and let the group gel.

Withhold your opinion. Train yourself to probe and listen to the group before you announce your thoughts, biases or concerns. You may find that the team’s insights are a better springboard for discussion than what you intended to talk about.

Beware: Many managers find it counterintuitive to keep quiet and remain neutral. But this ensures that the team gets a chance to speak freely without fear of reprisal or raising the “wrong” topic.

Let teammates respond to each other. Don’t overfacilitate a discussion by acknowledging every comment and then calling on the next speaker. It’s fine to keep quiet and let group members bounce ideas off each other. In fact, some of the best brainstorming occurs when the leader fades into the background and lets participants run the show.

Stop spoon-feeding. If team members ask you questions, don’t feel obliged to give instant answers. Let them seek their own counsel. Example: You’re leading a discussion about value-added services your company can provide. You’re asked, “What kind of services should we focus on?” Rather than limit their creativity with a detailed answer, say, “That’s up to you.”

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