As a follow up to my last blog about the importance of teamwork, I wanted to use this latest entry as an opportunity to expand upon my personal philosophy when it comes to proper leadership. While new innovations are always exciting and mysterious, core values endure for a reason. It’s because they are battle-tested and proven.Modern technology is something that normally builds upon a preexisting entity, as opposed to being something wholly original that manages to revolutionize an entire industry. That’s why a core understanding of the basics of teamwork is absolutely essential if you plan on building and maintaining a successful business. If you’re running a team, there are so many moving parts involved that one misstep could result in your entire vision being derailed.

Due to this, I saw fit to emphasize three key points that I feel are crucial to instilling a strong sense of team unity and a positive company culture. Once this solid foundation is laid down, you can then take advantage of the conveniences offered by modern technology to take your business practices to the next level. The points below are philosophies that I try to emphasize in my own professional life, in order to make sure that I’m practicing what I preach.

Contrive and Define Clear Goals For Each Team Member

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a team leader is not establishing a list of clearly defined goals for each of your team members. Each individual should be made to feel as if they are playing an important role in the bigger picture of the company. That’s what keeps people motivated over the long term. Otherwise, without the guidance of tangible directives and goals, each team member will eventually feel alienated and confused as to their purpose. Everyone wants to feel as if they have a purpose so they can grow and expand as a professional.

Ultimately, this will lead to them to the “diss” stage. Aside from alluding to the colloquial definition of the term “diss” (meaning to be disrespected), I’m also making reference to a few other potential mindsets that begin with a majority of the same letters: disheartened and disengaged.

As a team leader, it’s your responsibility (and your responsibility alone) to have a clearly defined course of action and delegate tasks accordingly. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a bunch of your teammates running around like chickens with their head cut off. You’re the team leader right? By definition, a leader is someone who leads, a responsibility that’s very difficult to uphold without a well-thought-out plan of action.

Have Face-to-Face Meetings Often

Here’s where you really have to take stock in your true feelings about the proper place of technology in a professional setting. Are you using it to enhance your company’s productivity after a solid workplace culture has already been laid in place? Or, are you leaning on it as a crutch because you’re merely assuming that it’s completely streamlining your business operations? While we do live in a society where technology has given us the freedom to interact with others basically wherever and whenever we want, this by no means should serve to decrease the importance of face-to-face meetings.

It’s easy to forget in these modern times, but body language is it’s own form of communication, and a telling one at that. So is the tone of a person’s voice and their diction. All of these important elements of interpersonal communication fall by the wayside through the use of a phone call or email.

Also, as many users of modern technology can attest to, there’s a lot that can be lost in translation when communicating with someone electronically. On the other hand, as a team leader who is running a face-to-face meeting, you’re saying: I’m here, I care, and I’m willing to listen directly to what you have to say. This is why we have Monday Huddles, where we start with an inspiring song and then discuss weekly tasks.

Deliver Feedback With A Personal Touch

Team members need to be acknowledged for their work. Nobody wants to exert an immense amount of effort on something that will never be noticed. When you’re delivering positive feedback to a team member, be sure that it has a personal touch.

Mention something that specifically impressed you about their work, so they get the feeling that you are paying close attention to their efforts, instead of just blowing smoke. On the other hand, when you’re delivering criticism, do so constructively. This means framing it within a context that suggests that the person is a valuable member of the team, but they just need to improve in certain areas of their job.

After all, everybody makes mistakes, including myself. The overarching point here is to instill a feeling of value and purpose in your team members through all of your interactions with them. A true leader highlights the strengths and talents within people that sometimes they didn’t even know they had themselves, helping to elevate them closer to their true potential. I’ve seen such growth, both personally and professionally, with all of my Onyx team members.