Team leaders should always be improving


John Raftery explains why team leaders should always be improving in order to keep staff engaged across the whole organisation and develop a successful company culture. Leaders need to create the right environment where employees at every level strive to maintain high standards and help them to reach and exceed company goals and objectives.

Effective team leaders build confidence in other people

In terms of interpersonal skills and the relationship between senior managers and the people who report to them, it’s very important to strike the right note with the people who are reporting to you. You need to encourage them and develop them, and get them to work with you. On a surface level your personal appearance and body language is very important. Body language is one of the key factors in creating confidence in other people and in yourself. It’s about sitting up straight, standing straight, looking people in the eye, having a firm handshake. All of these things are important in terms of body language, because you are sending out signals to people all the time. People pick up on these signals very quickly; it becomes a hidden dialogue between people.

Leaders behaviour dictates company culture

If you’re showing any kind of frustration, anxiety or impatience, people will pick up on it even if you’re trying to cover it up. If you’re showing any doubt or uncertainty or if you are slow to make decisions, all of these things create an atmosphere around you and this can permeate throughout the organisation. What I’ve learned above all else is that the behaviour of the leader of any organisation dictates the culture of the organisation. While personal appearance and body language are very important, ultimately the most important thing is the behaviour of the senior people in the organisation; their behaviour dictates everything else.

Empathy is one of the key skills of influential people

One of the key things you try to develop in working with senior executives in a coaching programme is trying to get them to develop empathy. Empathy is one of the key skills of influential people and a vital component of leadership. Empathy is being able to see things from another person’s viewpoint, to put yourself in their shoes so that you can try to understand them better, and be able to influence them more. Where you show high levels of empathy people will be drawn towards you. You will begin to understand people better and you can even start coaching them yourself. Ultimately executive coaching is about trying to bring the best out of people. It’s about winning people over and getting them to perform at their best because they want to perform at their best.

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 Why do an executive coaching programme?

To a large extent we live in our own heads to a large extent. We find it difficult sometimes to step outside of ourselves to see how we behave, to understand ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses a little better. You need that external viewpoint, you need somebody who can hold up a mirror to you and give you a clear picture of who you are and how you behave. To help you discover what is working and what isn’t working , and be able to discuss these things in a confidential and safe environment. A good executive coach will really challenge you and your behaviour. If you can become more aware of your behaviour and if you can control your behaviour better, this will affect the behaviour within the organisation. The organisation itself then becomes more controlled and aligned with the goals you want to achieve.

Setting standards across the whole organisation

One of the most common problems for managers is accepting shoddy work from staff. Employees come to them with information that’s half-baked or incomplete, or in a format that is unclear and some managers accept that. These managers often end up sitting down and trying to make sense of the information themselves. What they should be doing is sending these employees back out of the room, and telling them to come back when they have all the information clearly presented in the format you require.

Team leaders should always be improving

It’s about setting standards, that’s the important thing. We often get used to doing things a certain way over a long period of time. Sometimes we are just not aware that we are accepting mediocrity, we start to believe that what we do is ‘good enough.’ But if we personally raise our own standards then we will challenge other people who work for us to raise their standards too. That’s the key thing that you as a business owner, or as a team leader, should always be trying to achieve; raising the standards of the whole organisation.

Interview by Des Kirby


John RafteryJohn Raftery is Executive Coach and Senior Partner at LEAP.

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