How to be an Effective Team Leader | Toggl Blog
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How to be an Effective Team Leader

Zach McDaniel Zach McDaniel Last Updated:

Being a leader isn’t for everyone. There are lots of people out there that would much rather follow orders than give them. But, that’s not you. You may be new to project management, or you could just be looking to better your practices. Regardless, you clicked here to learn how to be a team leader. You’re taking the initiative to better yourself, and that’s a step in the right direction. There are many qualities of an effective team leader, so let’s go over them. As an effective team leader you should:

Wondering how to be a more effective team leader? Check out these tips and improve your leadership and your team's performance. #leadership #leadershiptips

Stay organized

Effective organization skills are a must have for any great team leader. When I say organization skills, I’m not referring to the times when things get unorganized, and you straighten them out. I’m talking about staying ahead of the game and being organized at all times.

There is one simple solution to staying organized: Toggl Plan. With Toggl Plan, you’ll be able to create a timeline for weeks or even months in advance. The software is laid out like a Gantt chart, so your team will be able to clearly see what they should be doing.

Toggl Plan Timeline

There will be times when things don’t go quite according to plan, but that has nothing to do with your organization skills. If a situation like this arises, don’t worry, Toggl Plan has you covered. Built within the software is an easy-edit tool that allows you to edit the schedule just as easily as you created it. Simply click, edit, and you’re done!

Be decisive

Don’t put off decisions until the last second. This goes for any decision, big or small. Procrastination can and will lead to failure. You are the leader here, so it’ll ultimately be up to you to pull the trigger.

While you are the one everyone should go to for advice and guidance, you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out if you ever need help. Don’t linger in your decision making chaos. If you’re having a hard time deciding what would be best for everyone, then consult everyone. A decision that’s been holding you up for days can be resolved with a quick half hour meeting. Yes, you should be decisive. But, at the same time, you should never shy away from asking questions. Communication is the key here.


Speaking of communication, it is important in a team just like it’s important in a relationship. Learn how to effectively communicate with your team, and project information accurately and precisely, and encourage others to do the same.  

Build relationships with team members

Communication can go much farther than just work related topics. Make an effort to connect with your team. Go out of your way to have conversations with everyone individually.

Build friendships on top of your work relationships. Learn everyone’s likes and dislikes. You want to know who you work with. Learning about your team members is a crucial step in creating long-term bonds with them.

Delegate correctly

Your biggest role as a team leader is delegation. As bad as that sounds, it’s true, but, delegation isn’t as bad as you think. There are three important points to keep in mind when delegating tasks:

  • Know who to delegate to.

Each one of your team members has a specific skill set. If you’ve gotten to know your team correctly, you should know who is best at what and delegate accordingly.

  • Know when to delegate.

Just because you should delegate, doesn’t always mean you have to. Don’t be afraid to jump in and handle something you need done.

  • Be decisive.

We covered the importance of making quick, tough decisions above, but we didn’t go over the importance of decisiveness when it comes to delegation. As long as it’s done fairly, people tend to respect someone who can make a tough decision without hesitation.

how to be a team leader

Manage projects, not people

Knowing how to be a team leader means knowing how to manage the projects and not the people working on it. You hired each one of your team members with the understanding that they’d do their job.

You may be asking yourself “What’s the difference between leading and managing?” I’m glad you asked.

Managing is more work driven, meaning you’ll be working on tasks more than anything. You’ll be doing things like holding meetings, talking to clients, and overseeing the progress of the project.

Leading means that you’re there for their support. Encourage them and give them guidance. Inspire them to be more productive by being productive yourself.

That leads us into our next point:

Lead by example

Most of us have probably had or heard of a job where the boss does nothing but sit in their office all day, and hand out orders like they’re going out of style. Lead by example and show your team how it’s done.

When something goes wrong, it’s you that the clients look at, not your team. Make sure they have a strong foothold by providing it for them from the start. Involve yourself as much as you can and your team will love you for it. Of course, do it for the sake of the team, not the fame.

Have fun and enjoy it!

You don’t have to be miserable at work. Stress in a workplace can lead to poor results. Your life shouldn’t revolve around your work. Set an example inside the workplace, and set one outside by demonstrating a healthy work routine.

Beyond learning when to take a break, you should have fun while at work. It doesn’t all have to be boring paperwork and spreadsheets. Do whatever it takes to boost morale, and you’ll end up getting a boost of your own.

Everyone can benefit from all of these points on how to be a team leader. You may have your own style, and that’s cool! I encourage you to remain true to it. But, you should always look for ways to improve and seek feedback from your team on how you can do so.

There are many points on how to be a team leader. It may be daunting when you first start, but with the support of your team, the knowledge you’ll gain along the way, you’ll be the best before you know it.

Zach McDaniel

Like many other people, Zach McDaniel gained his knowledge of management and project management through research and necessity. He believes that the most interesting thing about project management, management, and productivity is that there are so many different strategies, so there’s always something new to learn and share.

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