How To Build Leadership Principles That Inspire Teams

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Saphia Lanier
Saphia Lanier

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A leader doesn’t become great just because they deploy a certain leadership style or manage a team in a certain way. They become great when their views, beliefs, and core values align with their business objectives and their employees.

Leadership principles

These qualities, also known as leadership principles due to the way they inform leadership, are essential to high-performing managers, directors, and team leads. Those with strong leadership principles intuitively know how to direct their teams to success. In some cases, the presence of these principles can even be the difference between an ethical leader and one with little regard for their team’s well-being.

If you want a leader that is a role model for your team, then hiring one with strong leadership principles is key. 

What are leadership principles?

Leadership principles are the fundamental values and beliefs that guide an individual or organization in their decision-making and actions. These principles establish a strong foundation for effective leadership, fostering trust, respect, and accountability among team members. By adhering to leadership principles, individuals can cultivate a positive work culture and achieve success in their personal and professional lives.

Leadership principles every manager should know and implement

Leadership principles can vary from person to person and industry to industry. Many may learn new principles when exposed to new people and situations. However, the following are great starting points to build your leadership foundation: 

1. Lead by example

As a leader, it’s essential to model the behavior you want to see in your team. Nobody respects a leader who preaches one set of expectations but fails to live up to them themselves. This can include being punctual, working hard, and treating others with respect. For example, if you want your team to prioritize work-life balance, make sure you’re taking breaks and not sending emails at all hours of the night.

2. Communicate clearly and effectively

Businesses live and die by their communication practices. Good communication is key to successful leadership, because it removes confusion and ensures your team understands what’s expected of them. It can also go far in helping your team understand how their work fits into the bigger picture. For example, if you’re rolling out a new project, take the time to explain why it’s important and how it’ll benefit the company.

3. Foster a culture of trust and respect

A key leadership principle is to foster an environment of trust and respect among team members. This encourages collaboration and open communication, allowing everyone to work together toward a common goal. It also fosters loyalty and helps to create a positive work atmosphere that your team will want to be part of. Leaders should maintain high standards of integrity by being transparent with their teams and taking responsibility for their own decisions — especially in cases where those decisions may have led to failures.

4. Embrace innovation and change

Leaders must be open-minded and embrace new ideas, technologies, and strategies. They must also be prepared to adapt to changing conditions to stay competitive in today’s ever-evolving business environment. Encourage your team to think outside the box and develop creative solutions that benefit the company.

5. Delegate responsibilities

Leaders must trust their teams and delegate responsibilities to ensure everyone does their part, without micromanaging every little task. This allows you to focus on more complex tasks of running a business and managing a team, while empowering your team to take ownership of their work and develop new skills. As a leader, you provide guidance and support that ensures tasks are completed successfully.

6. Empower your team members to take ownership 

Leaders must allow their team members to take ownership of their work and develop their skills. This requires trusting them with responsibility and allowing them the autonomy to make decisions. Encourage your team to think independently and find solutions that can benefit the company in the long run. When they feel valued, respected, and empowered, team members are more likely to be motivated and productive.

7. Reward success

Leaders should recognize and reward success to motivate their teams and foster a positive work culture. This can include anything from verbal praise to physical gifts, depending on what works best for your team. Celebrating success creates a feeling of accomplishment and encourages team members to strive for excellence. For transactional leaders, this strategy tends to play a central role in how they manage their teams.

8. Set clear goals and expectations

Leaders should set clear goals and expectations for their teams so they know what’s expected of them. This removes any confusion about who’s responsible for what, and allows each member of the team to complete their duties more efficiently. Leaders should also provide feedback to ensure their teams are meeting expectations, as well as offering rewards or incentives when appropriate.

One great goal-setting method is to set S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) that align with the company’s overall objectives.

9. Be adaptable and open to change

Leaders must be open-minded and adaptive to changing conditions to stay competitive in today’s ever-evolving business environment. Leaders must recognize the need for change and be willing to adapt their strategies and processes accordingly.

10. Encourage growth and learning

Leaders should foster continual growth and learning for their team members. This can be done through mentorship, workshops, conferences, or other educational opportunities. Encouraging employees to learn new skills and develop professionally helps to increase their motivation and engagement in the workplace. Additionally, staying up to date on industry trends ensures your team is prepared to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

11. Continuously learn and grow as a leader

Leadership is a journey, not a destination. Take the time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, seek feedback from others, and invest in your own development. For example, consider taking classes, reading books, attending seminars, or shadowing other leaders in order to learn and grow as a leader.

12. Listen and act on feedback

Leaders must be open to constructive feedback from their teams, peers, and other stakeholders. Listening to feedback allows you to identify areas where improvement is needed, understand the impact of your decisions, and make adjustments accordingly. Leaders should also take action on the feedback they receive in order to ensure a positive outcome. This could involve making changes to processes or implementing new strategies.

13. Stand for your values

Leaders who have backbone understand the power of constructive disagreement. They’re willing to respectfully challenge decisions when their beliefs or values don’t align with the proposed course of action. A leader with a backbone doesn’t compromise for the sake of social cohesion, but instead stands up for what they believe is right. Even when this kind of debate is uncomfortable or exhausting, leaders should be willing to push back against a decision when necessary.

14. Follow through on promises

Good leaders should focus on the key inputs for their businesses to ensure success. They work hard to deliver results that meet and exceed quality standards in an effective and timely manner. They understand the importance of upholding expectations, and strive to achieve them daily despite setbacks or obstacles. Leaders also have a dedication to improvement that enables them to progress and develop solutions even when faced with difficult circumstances.

15. Admit to mistakes and learn from them

Everyone makes mistakes. It’s part of being human; however, it’s also beneficial for a leader to recognize and admit their mistakes to show their team they’re only human and that anyone can make errors. Owning up to a mistake allows a leader to be more relatable and ultimately help the organization grow by learning from what went wrong.

Admitting one’s mistakes can also garner more respect from employees. By taking responsibility for their actions, employees may be more willing to listen and follow the advice given by the leader. Acknowledging faults sets an example for not just employees but also everyone associated with the organization on how to handle, learn from, and move forward after blunders. 

16. Encourage diversity

As a leader, promoting diversity is essential to the success of an organization. Diversity is integral to improving the quality of work and building strong working relationships. When everyone has the same background and experience, it restricts new ideas and opportunities for growth. Creating a team with members from different cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities, and experiences brings fresh perspectives to projects and challenges. Respectful communication between all team members also helps promote an environment of acceptance.

Leaders must recognize diversity as a strength and cultivate an environment where everyone feels included and respected regardless of their identities or cultural background. This could include implementing sensitivity training so people better engage with each other’s varying perspectives while still being mindful of boundaries. 

17. Develop tomorrow’s leaders

You’re the leader today. But your job isn’t to lead forever. The best leaders know that it’s also up to them to set up the next generation of leaders to take over one day.

With this in mind, it’s important to proactively develop team members to become future leaders who drive long-term success within your organization. Developing future leaders requires having a preestablished plan that includes mentorship from current leaders and teaches employees to take ownership of their roles while gaining critical leadership skills.

Organizations can ensure this by:

  • Creating learning opportunities for those workers who have the potential to become leaders
  • Prioritizing investments in education around leadership values
  • Mentoring those with a propensity for success by upgrading their resumes with proper certifications and references from senior members

Taking these steps helps lay the foundation for a productive workforce and sets up those primed for leadership with the tools needed to succeed in their roles.

Being a leader with principles today sets up your teams and company for success tomorrow. But to get there, you must instill the same principles in the management teams across your organization. Everyone on the same page ensures a cohesive leadership strategy that builds trust among teams, making them more likely to follow.

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Topics: Leadership

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